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Freebee Friday: Safe Schools, Step 1

School safetyThere are safe schools and those that are not so safe, but if you follow the National School Safety and Security Services’ checklist of best practices, chances are you’ll have a safe and secure school. The recommendations range from training and keeping your emergency plan up to date to reaching out to local first responders and having a social media strategy that’s part of a communications plan. Throughout the exercise, you need to be constantly reacting to new threats with a flexible school security plan. While the company can help by filling in the gaps in your school’s safety infrastructure, they have a very detailed outline on how to do it yourself.

Open and Shut Case

SlideEvery laptop, tablet and many desktop monitors come with Web cams that you can turn off in the cam’s software, but what if a hacker has taken over the system and turned the camera on. It’s not a remote or theoretical possibility. How do you stop them from peering into your classroom? Most use masking tape, a Band Aid or a Post-It note to cover the camera’s lens, but C-Slide’s Webcam Cover 3.0 actually blocks anyone who has taken over the system from seeing who or what is in front of it. The 1 millimeter thick sliding plastic sleeve fits over any notebook- or display-based camera and can be pushed to cover the lens or leave it open. Available for $6 in black, white or gray, it’s better than taping over the lens.

Freebee Friday: Getting an A in Security

A+ securityThe need for enhanced security at schools has never been greater but this doesn’t always translate to the needed budget authority. Enter A+ Security, which attempts to consolidate all the security aspects at school in a cost-effective manner. After assessing the risks to students, staff and property, A+ will put together a plan that can include everything from video surveillance and access control to panic buttons and visitor management systems. Their technology can even record license plates of those in the school’s parking lot. It’s all summed up in the company’s “Securing Our Schools” booklet – a must read.


Streaming School

2016040815305248744The ability to stream lectures, assemblies and special events can help those stuck at home sick as much as administrators wanting to look in on teachers and parents wanting to watch a class’s activities. Either way, the Lumens VC-A60S camera can send out sharp video thanks to a wide dynamic range design and professional-level noise reduction. It has a 30X optical zoom lens, delivers full HD streams and can be panned, tilted and zoomed remotely.


Video without WiFi

Arlo_Gen4_LTE_Version-Viewset iso R top.2281There’s a new Arlo in town and it is a big step forward from the other second-generation surveillance cameras from Netgear. The latest Arlo Go Mobile Camera doesn’t need WiFi to move its video clips to Netgear’s cloud storage network because it relies on a high-speed LTE-based mobile data network, completely untethering the camera from a school’s network. Perfect for everything from covering the football field, parking lot or anyplace that the WiFi network doesn’t reach, the Arlo Go Mobile is weather-proof and can capture audio as well as video. It costs $450, uses AT&T for its data provider and will be out early next year.


Freebee Friday: Meet the New Scanner

Trend micro house call bIn 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.

Keyboard Locker

Guard idYou 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).

Getting Your School’s Mojo On

MojoWith 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.


Freebee Friday: Safe Surfing

Click click phishWant 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.

See and Be Seen

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.


AnkeThe 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 miniIf 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.


Weldex camerasSometimes 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.



9441bcIf 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.


FoscamIn 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.


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