BYOD hits college campuses

Mar 24, 2015

2015-03-24 Student.jpgBYOD is no longer just a practice for businesses. It is now increasingly being implemented at college and university campuses across the country, and for good reason.

When deployed in a higher education environment, BYOD brings many of the same benefits it provides in an office setting. By leveraging their own personal devices for classroom purposes, students have a more streamlined, improved way of accessing the materials they need to succeed. Additionally, pupils are better able to collaborate with others on group projects, and communication becomes that much easier.

Broward College institutes BYOD
According to Network World, one institution that has jumped on the BYOD bandwagon is Broward College near Miami. With the help of the school’s chief information security officer, Matt Santil​l, students are now able to safely utilize their own smartphones, laptops and tablets to connect with the college’s classroom materials.

In order to ensure security within the institution’s BYOD policy, Santil​l worked to register each device being utilized by both students and staff members. The users of these tens of thousands of endpoints must review and sign the school’s acceptable use policy in order to be granted access to network resources. The college requires the use of anti-virus software and network access controls on each device. Additionally, administrators do not allow students to use many peer-to-peer file sharing platforms in an effort to prevent them from violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Santil​l said that if students even attempt to illegally download materials from such P2P sites, there are safeguards in place to kill that process immediately.

Overall, Santil​l noted that the main focus of the college’s BYOD initiative is information security. This is especially important as institutions of higher education are beholden to a number of protection standards as they store and transmit payment card information and also house students’ health records.

“All colleges have massive amounts of sensitive data they have to protect,” Santil​l pointed out.

Considerations to make with schools’ BYOD programs
Using Broward as an example, it is clear that there are a number of factors school administrators must consider with their BYOD programs, not the least of which being security. Ed Tech Magazine recommended that information protections include the use of two-factor authentication to ensure a user’s identity, as well as scanning capabilities on the network to guarantee that all devices have anti-virus and anti​-malware software in place.

The school should also look to provide a secure file sharing platform to enable students to safely collaborate with one another. Without this resource in place, many pupils may use inappropriate strategies to transmit files, opening the network to considerable BYOD security risks.