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Up against a wall,schools tear down firewalls in Net-savvy days

With curious students getting the better of security systems that zealously guard school data,managements have realised it is best to teach them the virtues of ‘ethical’ snooping rather than restricting access to the Internet.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi |
January 14, 2009 12:59:31 am

With curious students getting the better of security systems that zealously guard school data,managements have realised it is best to teach them the virtues of ‘ethical’ snooping rather than restricting access to the Internet.

On the other hand,school authorities are also fortifying the monitoring of data,by which information related to the school’s accounts,results and the like are kept away from computers that are accessible by students.

Head of the Computer Science department at Delhi Public School,RK Puram,Mukesh Kumar said: “There has to be a balance between creativity and data security. Restricting the students’ access to information does not serve any purpose.” And how can it when they have mastered cutting-edge knowledge on hacking and about the various proxy websites that can bypass keyword-based firewalls?

Modern School,Barakhamba Road,recently held a workshop on ‘ethical hacking’ for students and teachers. They were audience to professionals who explained the threats of breaking into the system and also on how best to secure data.

The company,Innobuzz Information Solutions,says it is in talks with other schools including DPS,Bal Bharati and Apeejay,to conduct similar workshops. Laxman Public School has also kept its teachers up to date on the job.

Modern School’s Goutam Sarkar said the workshop also made students aware that they could be caught. Sarkar said: “There is no point in restricting access through firewalls because these slow down the system. They also create problems in research for different departments.” He said this knowledge has made students more responsible.

The school uses a software that allows teachers to access computers used by students and also control the activities going on. Ankit Oberoi of Innobuzz said,“This programme works like a Trojan. It allows access to all systems in the server. It is also possible to close windows,restrict access or shut down any computer in the system.” Apart from this,teachers are also given training on data security.

DPS,RK Puram,also uses a similar software to monitor Internet access in the school’s hostels. “Students have login identification and access the computers only at a particular time. The warden can also check the windows they open.

In order to review later,this information can be stored for five days,” Mukesh Kumar said.

Workshops and seminars for the faculty at computer departments in DPS schools are a regular feature,Kumar added.

However,the best deterrent to mischief is constant physical vigilance by teachers,school authorities have said. “Since the programme allows a teacher to monitor student activity in real time,there is no possibility of a student trying to access information that we would not want them to,” Goutam Sarkar said. Teachers are also physically present in the “crowded” Internet Resource Centre at DPS to keep an eye on what is going on.

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