In case you hadn’t noticed, many free antivirus products are quickly disappearing as a way to get you to upgrade to premium -– and often quite expensive -- security packages. For instance, Trend Micro’s free antivirus scanning software has been replaced by what the company calls HouseCall. It’s quick and easy to use, and the program automatically updates itself after installation. It works with both PCs (Windows 7 through 10) as well as Macs (OSX 10.7 or newer). On the downside, HouseCall doesn’t leave anything behind. Instead, it does a fast online scan for the most prevalent attacks using Trend Micro’s Cloud-based Protection Network that lacks anything like real time scanning or behavioral monitoring for when you turn your attention to something else. It’s better than nothing for older systems, but every Windows 10 computer includes Microsoft’s Defender, which has its holes but can stop the worst things from getting onto a school’s worth of computers.
You use antivirus software to keep outsiders from infecting your computer, but what about your keyboard? Keyloggers can record everything you type, so why not encrypt it? Strikeforce’s Guarded ID can do exactly that with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, so everything you type – from grades and discipline reports to credit card and ID numbers – stays safe and secure. While the computer gets the actual keystrokes, a hacker only sees random numbers. There are apps for PCs and Macs ($30) as well as Androids and iOS systems ($20).
With more than 50-million students, teachers and staff using Google for Education apps a day, it’s time for the program to widen its horizons and that’s what Mojo Networks is working on. Due out by the end of the year, the company’s secure WiFi management scheme will integrate with Google education apps and will be able to control much of what goes on at school. For instance, Mojo Enforce will not only restrict access to the school’s LAN but will add an extra authentication layer than WiFi access points can do on their own. This can deter hackers without the need for an on-site security appliance. Expect more and deeper integration as time goes on.
Want to teach small children how to avoid hackers or phishers trying to steal their identities? Click Click Phish is an online game created by the people at Plixer, a network surveillance program. Based on a fish swimming around your screen, Click Click Phish is chock full of what look like safe and dangerous links. Hover over them to see if they’re safe or not.
Every school administrator deserves the security and peace of mind of a school-wide surveillance system to watch over the institution when teachers, students and staff aren’t around. If you have a school-wide network already set up, it’s actually not that hard to add cameras to keep any eye on the grounds, classrooms and hallways. Any of these five sets of surveillance cameras let you be in two places: At home enjoying dinner or a movie while watching what’s going on at school.
ANNKE 4 MEGAPIXEL HD POE
The latest in surveillance is Annke’s 4 Megapixel HD PoE security camera. It’s not only small and unobtrusive, but the Anke camera delivers high-resolution images. For schools with the right wired network, the camera system can be powered by an Ethernet cable, simplifying installation and making it easier to hide the camera. Based on H264+ compression, the HD camera doesn’t use a lot of networking bandwidth, allowing a school to set up many of these cameras without upgrading its network. The cameras can be located indoors or outdoors and you can call up any recorded video remotely on a phone or tablet, wherever you are. With four cameras and a central recording system – enough for a smalls school – the Annke security system costs $537.
NOMAD HD MINI
If you have a place that lacks networking, like the sports fields or a parking lot, Rapid Vision’s Nomad HD Mini can still keep an eye on things. That’s because rather than IP networking, it sends its video not over WiFi or a wired LAN, but through the mobile 3G or 4G phone network. It creates HD video yet is small and can be mounted on existing poles or structures. The camera provides a 360-degree view while sending high-quality images in everything from bright sunlight to nighttime scenes.
Sometimes you want your cameras to hide in plain sight so as to not tip off vandals or thieves that they’re being caught in the act. That’s where Weldex’s Clock camera and Exit sign cameras fit in. They’re cleverly disguised as ordinary everyday objects that every school has but both have ¼-inch imaging targets inside and feature automatic white balance and gain control for excellent imaging. Each has the choice of a 3.6- or 5-mm lens, but lack the ability to create HD video.
If you’re experiencing uninvited guests late at night, Samsung’s SDC-9441BC camera can catch them in the act, night or day. With the ability to create full HD video, the camera has a wide 100-degree field of view as well as the ability to see as far as 80-feet into the dark. You won’t get grainy black and white footage because the SDC-9441BC has a 3-D noise filter that delivers sharp video under a wide variety of lighting conditions. It’s small, can be set up outdoors and costs $100.
FOSCAM Fl 9821P
In terms of pure value, Foscam’s $60 Fl 9821P is a winner. It’s small, sees in the dark and can either record intruders locally with an SD card or stream it over WiFi to a server. On the downside, the Foascam device tops out at 1,280 by 720 resolution rather than full HD imaging. With a speaker and microphone you can configure it by telling it commands or even use it as an intercom, such as at a remote entrance. The camera has motion detection built-in and can see in the dark as far as 24 feet away so it can catch a vandal in the act. Even though it’s budget-priced, the camera includes phone apps for alerts and remote viewing of the camera sees.
Someone surreptitiously copying a confidential file (think grade or discipline report) is almost as bad as a hacker sneaking in and taking it, but Brigadoon’s CopyAlert can prevent it. The software works with PCs (Windows 7 through 10) and Macs (OSX 10.6 through 10.11) by removing the ability of the operating system to copy any file you designate without the proper password. It works with hard drives, optical discs, thumb drives, USB Devices and even Bluetooth and costs $30.
The STOPit online platform can be an effective way to block cyberbullying because it lets the victims anonymously report threats, intimidation and sexual harassment. The platform works with phones, tablets and notebooks and lets students and teachers let the administration know about everything from inappropriate behavior to a weapons warning and attach pictures as proof.
D-Link lets you keep an eye on the school grounds with its DCS-6517/7517 Web cams. The 5-megapixel video camera is water-proof, can deliver 2,560 by 1,920 resolution and uses wide dynamic range video enhancement to be able to identify things like faces and license plates. Available as dome (model 6517 for $700) or bullet (7517 for $850) versions, the cams have infrared illumination for nighttime use and can be powered over their Ethernet data link.
With hackers, identity thieves and assorted nuts out there, you need to assume that all the servers at your various schools and district headquarters have the digital equivalent of a bull’s eye on them. Sentinel IPS can help with advice on why schools are such a target these days as well as steps you can take to secure everything. They’ve even created a nice infographic that shows the risks.
SchoolMessenger's recently launched Passport software allows students, teachers, administrative staff and parents to sign-on once to get to all of their school’s IT resources. The Web-based password service can not only save lots of time, but individual access rights can be set up as well as instant links to online educational resources, like Curriki and HippoCampus. Best of all, the basic version is free.