Top 5 Security Practices to Secure BYOD Wi-Fi for K-12 Students

BYOT K-12 Students

Like any other industry, technology plays a critical role in transforming and evolving the industry of education. The nexus between computer-based learning and smart education systems are making learning easy, accessible, and engaging for the younger generations. Throughout the globe,  schools and K-12 learning institutes are actively leveraging tech gadgets, smart learning platforms, and digital learning strategies to empower younger generations to be more tech-savvy and current with the rapidly evolving world of technology.

Most schools and K-12 learning institutions offer on-site computer labs to students while also offering bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. This means students can use school-provided computers, laptops, or tablets or they can bring their own digital devices from home to perform their daily basis of digital learning activities. Regardless if students and teachers use school computers or choose to bring their own, all the digital devices need the school’s Wi-Fi internet connection. With so many external devices connecting to the school’s Wi-Fi and networks, it raises many security concerns for IT administrators.

Wireless and network security for schools and other K-12 learning institutions have become increasingly important as the school IT systems collect and manage sensitive data about students, about their parents, guardians, and families, about educators and other school staff, and about school district operations. All of such information makes these learning institutions a prime target for cybercriminals. As the dynamics shift from in-school learning to remote learning due to the current state of the global health crisis, schools and learning institutes are witnessing record-breaking cyberattacks. However, as the world slowly recovers and plans for post-pandemic strategies, educational institutions must enhance their Wireless security (WLAN architecture) to cope with the modern cybersecurity threats.

To help you get started, here are the top 5 security best practices that you can consider to increase BYOD and Wi-Fi security in K-12 schools and similar learning environments.


1-  Wi-Fi (WLAN) and BYOD Security

Educational institutions including but not limited to the K-12 schools are exposed to a host of security risks. These digital security risks to educational institutions can include insider threats, cyberattacks by malicious cybercriminals, students, and so on. With the deployment of modern BYOD wireless network security solutions, not only such risks can be minimized but network or IT security administrators can also leverage an in-depth understanding of connectivity needs and the exact details of a device connected to the school network. BYOD wireless security solutions can allow IT professionals to identify and block unauthorized or unrecognized devices connecting to the internal networks of the school. With a plethora of network security tools, insights, connectivity features, and reporting capabilities, leveraging BYOD Wi-Fi security solutions is one of the dependable ways to increase Wi-Fi security in K-12 schools.


2- Choosing Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)

Schools and K-12 learning environments are heavily equipped with tech gadgets to support the daily basis of e-learning activities and exercises. These tech gadgets can include tablets, laptops, mobiles, computers, interactive whiteboards, projectors, student response systems, video surveillance cameras, and so on. Using a WLAN version of anything less than 802.11ax (such as 802.11ac/n) can bring down the security and speed of the network and connectivity. To cope with the growing number of digital gadgets and network connectivity and speed requirements, it is recommended that you consider upgrading your WLAN to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). Upgrading your WLAN to 802.11ax can increase the security of your WLAN architecture while offering up to 1200 Mbps of link speed and an increase for classrooms with high concentrations of mobile devices and multimedia applications.


3- Prepare for Guest Access and BYOD

Providing a secure connection to students and teachers using the school’s Wi-Fi or network is one of the basic responsibilities of the school’s IT teams or IT administrators. As younger generations are more technologically savvy and the biggest consumers of Internet-of-things (IoT) devices, educational institutes are leveraging technology to create more interactive and immersive curriculums. To match the demand and adoption of IT in education, K-12 schools and learning institutions offering BYOD, must develop strict BYOD security policies that address how teachers, students, guests, substitute teachers, guest lecturers, parents, and management staff can access the school Wi-Fi or network. BYOD policies also include limiting or denying Wi-Fi access to an unregistered device, in order to prevent students and teachers to use any other applications other than the required ones.


4- Content Filtering

Educational institutions especially K-12 schools must control the content that is exposed to young students. Content filtering is a must to prevent students from accidentally stumbling on inappropriate ads, websites, and other web pages. Effective content filtering blocks students from downloading malicious applications, malware, and other inappropriate content on the school’s devices or their own devices while browsing the web. Content filtering can protect a school’s network from many network security risks and can increase the productivity of the students.


5- Offering Guest Wi-Fi Access

In K-12 schools, setting up a guest Wi-Fi can provide a secure and limited internet connection to outsiders such as parents attending parent-teacher meetings, guest speakers, substitute teachers, and so on. Outsides device users may have malware in their devices or may use the school’s Wi-Fi to open malicious web pages that can cause a host of implications for the school. Therefore, isolating and limiting the connectivity of the external devices to a separate guest network can help the school’s IT security professionals ward off many security risks.

Smart education is becoming an evolved substitute for traditional paper handbooks. The key to sustainability for K-12 schools and other educational institutions is not by resisting the adoption of technology in education, but to adopt the change by becoming more technology-friendly and offering a secure and smart education and learning environment for the students.