"The dog ate it" may still work for students, but never for their schools and colleges. Educational data safety is critical for complying with the law, for the running of the institution, and for the future of its students. It is a heavy burden for education because staff and students need constant access and the resources to defend it are often lacking.
Deliberate attacks on data are rising everywhere. Incidents reported to the authorities are a small fraction of the true figure, but nevertheless, they reveal a steep upward trend. Schools and colleges notified the Information Commissioner of data security incidents, 511 times in the second quarter of 2018-19, compared to 355 in the corresponding period of the previous year. Illegal data disclosures were notified 353 times, compared to 239 the previous year and only 26 the year before (https://schoolsweek.co.uk/school-data-security-incidents-rise-in-wake-of-gdpr/). Over 1000 denial-of-service attacks were also reported.
According to a study by University Business Magazine, higher education institutions now suffer 17% of all successful cyber attacks.
The unique problems of educational backup
Attempted hacks by curious students aside, educational data is highly valuable to criminals. Early glimpses of course materials and test papers can be resold around the world. Access to student records enables many forms of abuse, including theft of student financial resources, identity theft and subsequent exploitation of students themselves. Malicious encryption and blackmail are still common.
The intensity and variety of data access is another problem for educational backup. Staff, students and administrators use a wide variety of devices daily - pen drives, smartphones, laptops connected to public Wi-Fi services and so on. Data resources are rapidly becoming the lifeblood of education, so safe access is literally a matter of life and death for today’s providers.
Even leading universities admit they lack sufficiently trained staff to stay abreast of the threats, technology and legislation. The government recently provided a standards framework for assessing the fitness of cyber-security (BS31111:2018), but providing it is still a huge challenge for institutions that try to cope alone.
Cloud backup solutions
Even if there were no outside threats (and therefore no need for security legislation), educational servers still labour under a heavy load. Students still frequently find that important work has been deleted after incorrect storage. Space is limited and if students could use it as much as they liked, it would be an expensive proposition to provide it. Future requirements can be unpredictable. Equipment dates quickly and has to be replaced at high cost.
There are multiple benefits from transferring data stores to specialist Cloud storage providers. Firstly, they have the specialists needed to provide the best security available. Secondly, backups are automatic and frequent. Thirdly, your data capacity can grow, or contract, according to your requirements. You will never pay for more than what you need and will never have to update the hardware it resides on.
Data is always valuable to someone - and different people will attribute value to it in different ways. As an example, a School Business Manager may see their emails as the most valuable, a teacher may give top value to their lesson plans, a student to their coursework.
Having a full and up-to-date backup of all data is therefore the only way to protect everybody’s interests.
Data backup and disaster recovery strategies are vital for all organisations and should not be overlooked just because they may be expensive.
Why backups of education data are especially important?
With school budgets being squeezed on an annual basis, it can be tempting to cut corners. But it is important that all assets are protected and treated accordingly. This includes physical assets (buildings, computers, projectors etc.) but also digital assets (student records, lesson plans, revision resources, coursework).
Schools have a unique responsibility due to the sensitivity of the data they hold (often about minors). This is why schools and educational organisations have extensive legislation to comply with when it comes to data.
One of the pieces of legislation that schools must comply with is the Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS) - most recently updated in 2015. Part of this states that all Local Authority maintained schools are required to backup their data off-site on a daily basis in order to protect their ICT assets.
Further legislation that is relevant to schools in particular includes the GDPR act that came into force in May 2018 (and is in operation Europe-wide). Backup and disaster recovery is essential under GDPR - in fact, it requires an organisation’s sensitive data to be accessible at all times, including in the event of a physical or technical incident.
SIMS is a very popular management information system (provided by CAPITA) that is used at over 20,000 schools across the United Kingdom. It provides the tools to help manage a number of daily aspects of school-life in an efficient and simple way. A complete SIMS backup should be done as often as possible to ensure that data is kept up-to-date and secure at all times.
SAFE backups are cloud-based, incredibly secure, and are suitable for all levels in the education sector. They enable access to key data in an easy-to-use and safe way. At SAFE, we have been providing backup solutions for educational establishments for 15 years, covering a variety of data requirements, including SIMS.
All data is transferred using up to 448-bit Blowfish Encryption and remains encrypted until you later need to restore it.
We offer full Bare Metal Backups (StorageCraft), Windows System Backups, or Virtual Machine backups. We have two UK-based, ISO 27001 accredited data centres.
All backups are monitored and our teams are alerted to any failed backups.
Our world is changing fast and the way that we absorb, retain and share information is changing at an alarming rate. We expect everything to be available instantly and readily accessible with very little tolerance for delay or missing services.
We now have toddlers and young children using tablets or mobile phones from a very early age, which means that when they become students, they are more comfortable with technology than ever have been before. So we shouldn’t be surprised with the increasing pressure on the education system to keep ahead of the game and the expectation to provide the most up to date and secure systems.
All students demand the high-quality provision of IT infrastructure that enables them to succeed and thrive through studying, they are used to navigating a series of applications or websites to get what they need and there is a genuine willingness for IT Heads and Principles to give them all that they need to accomplish this. There is also an increasing pressure to ensure that the welfare of the students is maintained at all times by providing analytics and trending of successes or issues. Add to this the increasing number of internal and external cyber attacks from viruses or ransomware then the job to provide a safe, secure and leading edge infrastructure is a real challenge.
A recent audit by LGFL states the following:
The problem faced by the educational sector is that it is under pressure from the Government and are subject to cost cutting. With more data being produced, this increases the amount of compute, licencing, on premise or cloud storage. So these institutions are being squeezed and have the unenviable task of trying to be supportive, creative and yet have to be financially considerate.
So the reliance on data is higher than ever before and the budgets are getting tighter and tighter, so what can we do to assist? Safe Data Storage is committed to reducing the cost of cloud data backups in the education sector and as such, we are willing to beat the price of our competitors for a like for like backup solution. We will work with you to create a solid backup and DR strategy and keep a keen eye on reducing the costs whilst providing you with the peace of mind that we are there to support you.
We have been providing services for over 15 years, been a member of BESA for over 10 years and we are a Capita SIMS Approved Integrator. Our services are tailored to each of our client’s specific backup and recovery requirements, coupled with UK storage and fantastic UK support staff. Our services are fully GDPR compliant, we hold both ISO9001, ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials.
We have just launched a limited time offer of 3 months free services, so there has never been a better time to get in touch…………
Stats Credit: securityaudit.lgfl.net (Cyber Security Schools Audit 2019) in conjunction with National Cyber Security Centre
We have been providing professional backup services to the Education Sector since we started over 15 years ago and now have hundreds of terabytes of data secured on our private storage in the UK. A core element of our services for education has always been providing robust SIMS backups and we have never had a situation where we’ve not been able to restore data. However, a common question we get asked is whether or not we are CAPITA SIMS approved, until now our answer has been no, mainly due to the confidence we have in our service.
Nowadays, all industry sectors are seeking comfort in accreditations so we decided to put both of our core backup solutions to test and engaged expertise of CAPITA ESS Consultancy Services to assess our abilities.
The first stage was to run through a detailed training session for the installation, configuration and update of our very own SIMS Server loaded with dummy data. We then went through the finer intricacies of the product including some of the dependencies such as Discovery, FMS, SOLUS, the encrypted document folders and the dbAttach tool.
Once we had a solid understanding of the above, we were invited to demonstrate both of our products in two separate sessions.
First was SafeImage, we configured and set off an image based back up of the server and once completed, used our knowledge to detach the old database, mount an image of the server, restore an old copy of the database and then reattach this to the SIMS Server, we then started SIMS to ensure the changes we had made to the data had been recovered.
Second, was SafeBackup, we configured the File and SQL agents to back up the relevant areas of the server and then proved the functionality by shutting down the SQL Service and then doing an in-place restore of the database. We then tested this and demonstrated that the data had been recovered.
This was followed up with a detailed document that explained our understanding of the requirements for SIMS backups, locations and tools along with links to GDPR Statements and Company Policies.
Following review we were successfully accredited as a CAPITA SIMS Integrator for 2019/20. This is fantastic news for us and will provide an additional layer of confidence in our abilities and services.
Online data backup is a relief for people who need to fall back on their systems to work smoothly on a daily basis. Cloud storage options are no longer designed for professionals working in a corporate environment. Interestingly, students also feel the need to rely on online storage to show improvement in their educational grades and to get clarityon their professional dreams.
Students mainly need online storage space to backup their study materials that will help them collate information and keep them in one secure place. Technology has indeed made life convenient and that is why the need for education backup since this option is available. Education backup minimises risk of losing study materials in case of system crash. Retrieval of information is easy when storing it in the Cloud because online storage is kept secured with anti-virus programs.So let us help you know how education backup with the help of Cloud storage can help students.
With the help of Cloud storage, students can easily collect study materials without the fear of losing track of them. Materials get stored in the Cloud and having information stored in one place is the best way to study.
Educational institutes have adapted very well to technology and they have brought Cloud inside the classroom. Cloud makes students extremely pro active and aware about activities that take place inside classes. This encourages better co-operation and teamwork between students and teachers. With the help of Cloud, information generated in the classroom is easily available.
Cloud makes information easily available among people. This further helps parents to be a lot more involved in the academics of their children. Beyond classrooms, parents can help students with their grades and academics.
With the help of Cloud, education backup becomes easy for students. They know all their research work and study materials are kept safe and they don’t need to put extra effort to keep them together. Education backup is also a great way to stay organised and compartmentalise data in your online storage space.
Now that information is sorted and kept organised, you no more have the stress of finding information. You can now invest all your concentration and attention towards acquiring knowledge because everything is kept sorted for you.
Education backup helps students to have all information, notes and study materials in their radar and be prepared for all examinations.
The ability to save files and content in a way that they can be accessed anywhere, anytime, has been one of the most useful technological innovations to date. Today, the popularity of the cloud services is no longer restricted to business organizations but include educational institutions too. This highly effective and most importantly, space saving technology has significantly impacted on the way the education sector used to operate. Students and teachers alike are now reaping the numerous benefits of the online backup solutions in the UK. This has further led to the rise of cloud solution providers, offering backup services to suit the customised requirements of the education sector also. So, how does the cloud technology affect operations for schools, colleges and other institutions?Here’s a detailed discussion.
– Gone are the days when teachers were required to bring and carry their individual storage devices whenever they needed to take work back home. Using USB drives or disks is risky and could lead to loss of valuable data. Cloud backup puts an end to all such troubles. With all the data securely gathered at one place, restoring these files is simple and hassle-free.
– Being able to securely backup all files on a day-to-day basis means that if a file is lost or deleted the next day then it can be recovered. This provides a much needed flexibility for educational institutions that have hundreds of updated files each day.
- A reason why many in the education sector are still not ready to move to the cloud is because they are apprehensive of the security of the stored data. Well, the good news is cloud solutions offer the best possible security to your critical data while also ensuring that recovery takes place fast, if needed. All content on the cloud requires specific authentication for the user to access it. In case of natural calamities, you can be rest assured that your data is safe on the cloud.
Seek the services of a reputed provider to make the most of the cloud technology for education.
There can be massive benefits of using cloud data storage and virtualisation services in the UK education sector, but schools and other public sector departments are holding back on this. What are their reasons and how can moving to the cloud benefit the education sector?
There are many ways that the education sector can take full advantage of moving to the cloud. Unfortunately, there are also lots of challenges to using the cloud and virtualisation services in this sector.
Often many schools have IT technicians who are competent and who have a good understanding of IT requirements and of education backups in the UK, but the cultural challenges in academic environments can often be great. A huge gap can sometimes arise between the strategic vision of moving to the cloud, and the available technologies needed to do this with the budgets available to deliver the vision appropriately. The Head Teacher can often sit much like a CEO at the top, but unlike a CEO, the Head Teacher has little or no interest in IT systems, moving to the cloud or virtualisation.
This is often where a big disconnection can lie, there are often significant opportunities for improvement and streamlining the IT services to the cloud in schools and the academic world.
Schools usually see IT as a “necessary evil”, and Head Teachers can have little strategic IT vision which could help guide their delivery in terms of IT and using the cloud. There is some apathy surrounding what IT companies can offer to schools, yet go to any academic conference and stands that offer things such as school photography are immensely busy compared to stands that offer IT services. It shows that IT just doesn’t have the same importance as other more traditional parts of academic life and is often wrongly ignored.
A fundamental shift in thinking is necessary for schools to really start to see key benefits of cloud backups, with service and technology providers working closely to implant backups and the importance of IT within the mind-set of professionals working in the educational sector. County IT advisors and IT departments must stress the importance of Backups and the IT sector to Head Teachers and demonstrate the huge benefits to schools of investing in IT, from a budget point of view and also the ways it will improve the educational experience for students, parents and teachers.
A great way of getting the cloud and virtualisation into schools is to build it into the curriculum. The traditional deliverables of both a curriculum and administrative network are key fixtures in a school system, and other challenges include delivering data outside physical networks in a secure way to allow pupils to access key files so they can do their homework.
Vendors such as Microsoft are starting to realise this and are offering products such as Office 365 to schools, but unfortunately there are issues with this. Office 365 does not readily give teaching staff easy access to work uploaded by students. There are other products such as Lync 2010 which help to create virtual classroom settings, but a huge shift in thinking in schools will be needed for these to work well in an educational setting.
At a time where funding is extremely limited for schools, the chances of gaining additional money to bolster IT departments and IT skills within schools is small, and so searching for the right provider is key. Service providers that can help schools move to the cloud and implement virtualisation services into educational institutes are in short supply, and the support of outside providers will become even more prevalent as schools consider the positive impacts of moving to the cloud, such as cyber security and data protection.
Moving to the cloud is a huge consideration for any school or educational establishment, and only when the Head Teacher sees IT as an integral part of teaching and not a necessary evil will the journey towards cloud computing in education be completed.
In the past, schools needed to be able to recover their data in the event of disaster but, beyond that, it was up to each institution as to how it handled its IT infrastructure and backup. In many cases this was a matter of dumping on separate servers and hoping for the best! Fortunately today, we have more professional cloud backup and storage services available.But, what should you consider in choosing a service provider for your school in UK?
You do not want a service provider that is going to close shop after a short period of time and take your data with them; look for a company that has at least ten years’ experience.
Look for a provider who offering a fully managed service with UK support, 24/7. The level of protection the service provider offers should be detailed in the Service Level Agreement (SLA) so remember to check small print carefully.
The provider should use a fully automated process to backup and store all your school’s data. Education backups will usually work automatically overnight and no school or college staff needs to be involved. Some providers will send daily backup emails so you know the backups have been successful.
One of the advantages of handing over your education backup and storage to a service provider is that the solution immediately becomes scalable. You will not be locked into the set amount of storage you first subscribed to but you can scale up or down as required. So, if the Government changes the rules as to what you need to store, it is not the end of the world!
The security of your data is paramount so invest some time learning all you can about the technologies used by the service provider and the compliance certifications they have been awarded. Make sure the service provider is familiar with the specific requirements of the UK education sector (e.g. whether they are BESA approved) and ensure any data that is transmitted to their servers is fully encrypted and will remain so until you (and only you) want access to it.
Schools generally have very fast internet connections, but vast amounts of data. Look for a provider who can offer a free service to perform your initial education backup as this will take the longest time; subsequent incremental backups will build on the initial “seed”, capturing only changes to it, so daily backups will not take anywhere near as long.
Data backup and storage is pointless unless you can easily recover it in a reliable fashion. You may want to look for a provider offering disk imaging or “bare-metal” backups and restores. This method allows not only your establishment’s application data to be restored, but, also its applications and operating system to be backed up or restored as required. With this type of disaster recovery solution you can restore an entire server in a matter of minutes, restore to alternative hardware and even select single files.
Finally, your solution must be affordable. Find out if there is special pricing for educational bodies and shop around for a few quotes to compare providers. You will be surprised what you can find out there.
In conclusion, educational data backup and storage servicesshould provide your school, college or university with a solution that meets every need. The service should be reliable, secure, and fully managed by highly trained and certified staff. In short, look for professional expertise but without a hefty price tag!
The virtual world is a part of our lifestyle today because it has made life simpler and a lot more convenient. Sure there has been a lot of debate about how the virtual world is making us emotionally hollow and how we must switch off from all these at least for some time. But the online world is a reality that we cannot ignore because it is indeed something that we cannot do without.
The virtual world is all around and has made its strong presence felt across several industries through websites or social media. So much so that businesses feel incomplete without an online and social media marketing strategy. It is interesting to note that even the educational industry is not that far off when it comes to adapting to the online trends. Not just the educational institutes but even students feel that the virtual world makes the entire process of getting the right education simple. Thus it can be concluded that the process of online learning is on the rise and the number of students availing this has been on the rise. Going by reports, the number of schools offering online learning and education backup has increased to 87% in 2015. The trends in statistics reveal that the numbers will be on the rise in the years to come. This not only makes it easy for students to get the right education but even the institutes have improved their functionality and productivity.
The growth in online learning and educational backups is mainly because of the demands placed by students. Such rising demands and that too because of students imply that it must make the education processes easy for them. The contribution of the virtual world in education backup is overwhelming and extremely beneficial. So let us take a look at how it contributes and helps students to enrich their knowledge base.
With the help of online learning, students can have greater and easier access to their course from wherever they are based. This implies that students and faculty members can move around freely without affecting their education course. Students can also easily attend their classes irrespective of their work schedule. All that students’ need in such an educational setting is a desktop and internet connection that will help them to excel in their academics.
Online learning is less intimidating because students are spared the classroom environment and can have their education backup plans ready. The old school brick and mortar classroom setting is also drab for students to learn something new. Easy conversation with peers and faculty members is essential while learning something new. Virtual conversations always help in such a situation because you can converse without any hassle.
We all know that the virtual world makes any process cost effective because the cost of logistics get reduced. The advantage of not physically attending school cuts down on the costs effectively. Gone are the days when you have to shell out a large portion of your money on buying textbooks. Thanks to the virtual world all important reading materials are available online which saves a lot.
Educational courses are easily available online and that gives students the edge to avail it easily. It also helps students to review the lecture in a better way because it is available online. Not just the lectures, but even the explanations provided along with the discussion can be reviewed by students at a later stage. This gives the ease to students to absorb the education at the right time and in their own pace.
These are some of the crucial factors that have helped students realise the value and importance of education. Increased flexibility and accessibility has helped students make better choices of what they wish to do professionally. Online learning has increased educational opportunities because it has given students the exposure to make their own choices and follow the curriculum with great flexibility.
The cloud has changed the way in which we carry out many everyday IT tasks, and nowhere is that truer than in the world of performing backups. The cloud offers greater convenience, easier access to saved data, better security and no need to worry about cycling storage media.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the adoption of cloud-based backup has soared across all sectors of industry. It makes the task easier whilst also helping to keep costs down. The education sector in particular, both in schools and in higher education institutions, has been quick to see the benefits of backing up to the cloud
In the past, backing up data generally involved some form of removable media. The earliest backups tended to use magnetic tape, although in more recent years, disk-to-disk backups or the use of flash drives has become more commonplace.
The use of physical media brings its own problems as you need to keep multiple copies of data to be able to recover to different points. This not only means having to store large quantities of physical media; it means having to have a plan to cycle the media and re-use it in the correct sequence. This is quite a chore, and it can easily lead to errors involving the wrong data being overwritten. It also means that if you do need to recover something, there are inevitable delays in locating and loading the correct copy – especially if backups are stored off site.
Using cloud backup for educational institutions eliminates many of these issues. Because cloud storage is always available, there’s no need to worry about locating the right media when it’s needed. Of course, there’s no need to worry about secure storage or cycling of copies, either.
Another big advantage in using the cloud is that it’s easy to scale the amount of storage. If there’s an expansion in the number of students or a new research project leads to an increase in the amount of data to be backed up, storage in the cloud can easily be increased to cope.
Using the cloud helps contain costs as there’s no need to buy physical media or the hardware required to read it. Cloud storage is generally priced according to the amount you use, so you do not end up paying for unnecessary space.
The big advantage is that backing up to the cloud is continuous. In an educational situation where there is fast turnover of information and potentially many inexperienced users, it can be easy to lose data in between the intervals of an old, fixed-time backup schedule. Using the cloud means you can backup data all the time, so in the event of failure or accidental deletion, the data you recover will never be more than a few minutes old. It’s also secure because the information is automatically stored in an off-site location.
Everyone hopes that their backups won’t be needed. In the educational sector, however, there’s a better chance than most that you will need to recover files, folders, or even whole systems at some point.
This is another area in which using the cloud for backups offers major advantages. The data is easily available with no need to track down physical media, and it’s usually possible to select from several different versions of a file should you need to restore it.
Cloud systems give you the option of restoring a particular version of a file from a specific backup. You also have the option of restoring to a different location should the data need to be verified before going back into live systems.
Backup is essential for all organisations, but in the past, it has represented something of a chore. In educational environments, it represents a particular challenge because of the fast-changing population and the diverse amount of data to be handled. The cloud makes the job of backup easier to carry out and ensures that the data can be stored in an easily accessible, secure and cost-effective way.