Recently I attended the BETT show at London Olympia. The show, billed as the world’s largest educational technology event, seemed to me to be somewhat less security-focused than it has been in recent years.
There was, however, a great deal of interest in Virtual Learning Environments – or VLE’s – (systems which take education out of the classroom and allow students and teachers to log on to submit or check work from anywhere where they have PC access). When you consider the popularity and convenience of virtual working and the increased use of collaborative software and technologies to aid this, the popularity of virtual learning does make sense.
However, the increasing popularity of VLE’s could present a problem. Some have been known to have their security flaws, with older versions of some systems being exploited by spammers. In one case, this involved linking the name of the effected school to porn sites in web searches. Children carrying out searches while at school were protected from this attack by their school’s firewall, but did the children who searched from outside school premises have the same level of protection?
One thing that is abundantly clear is that whatever the new technology of the day is, it will come with its own security flaws. The systems will need to be patched and updated regularly; and organisations will need to have rigorous security measures and guidelines in place to defend both the network, and the people using it – particularly when those people are children.
Popular trends in technology, whether a passing fad or not, must be monitored by security companies, and the people and organisations that use the systems, if we want to enjoy using the new technology, and not expose ourselves to greater security threats.