In this blog series, Kevin Robinson explores the various risks to school IT systems and presents practical solutions for minimising them.

I’d estimate that 60 per cent of schools have passwords that can be cracked in less than a minute. This tends to happen when staff rely on the same passwords for years because they’re easy to remember – but they could be putting your systems at risk.

With a school’s permission, we can test the strength of their passwords for them by deliberately attempting to crack them – and it’s pretty scary how quickly that’s possible.

Today’s generation of tech-savvy pupils might even see it as a challenge to hack their school’s systems, and it does happen – we’ve known pupils to crack admin passwords and access – or even try to expose – confidential information on other pupils.

Schools have an obligation over how long they hold pupil data, as well as financial information and correspondence between staff and SLTs, and with forthcoming changes in data protection law, it’s going to become essential for schools to be able to lock down confidential data.

However, this risk can be mitigated if schools adopt and enforce effective password policies, and change them regularly. The industry standard is that passwords must be at least eight letters long and contain one uppercase letter and one digit.

Schools are obliged to keep data safe and this is another area where moving your systems to the cloud gives you greater security and peace of mind.

A school’s Management Information System (MIS) holds critical data that schools can’t run without, but hosting it in the cloud ensures your data can be locked down and stored safely – and you can access it using a single sign on for multiple sites, removing the need to remember lots of different passwords.

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