NETWORK INFORMATION SECURITY IN EDUCATION

By Daria Catalui and Louis Marinos.

Comparing the Internet to a road network seems to be a good analogy. Just as the road network carries us from point A to point B, so too does the Internet carry us to content all over the world. However, while everyone must have some preparation before they can travel on the road network, this is unfortunately not the case in the use of the Internet and this has to change.

While a valuable tool, the use of the Internet clearly involves risks that might have a significant impact on human life. It is obvious that such an activity needs the involvement of all participating entities, such as educators, parents, policymakers, social partners and youth.

The ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) Report on Network Information Security (NIS) in Education comes at a time when education and ICT (information communication technology) are interrelated and interconnected more than ever. The challenge of the digitally-active citizen is to remain informed of the news coming from the dynamic field of ICT, and of information security, in particular. Long, life-learning, formal, non‐formal and informal education are on the agenda of policymakers. Children, youth and their peers, parents and educators are all part of the discussion and the recommendation is that they should cooperate and get involved as much as possible.

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Through NIS in Education, we understand the transmission of basic, safety information to the young citizens using the Internet. Our intention, with the material published, is to start the knowledge-transfer process between those involved so as to achieve sustainable results that will have a real impact on Internet users.

One way to achieve this, is by disseminating the work done in the past few years by ENISA, using a language that can be understood by the target group. We have summarized the findings of ENISA reports, providing concise information in pamphlet form. Moreover, we provide an international overview of this material.

The published material is in a form that allows easy adaptation to educational objectives and the identification of competencies needed and/or direct use through relevant stakeholders. Our aim is not to substitute excellent material that already exists in this area, but rather to provide concise information that can be easily integrated into existing educational material. The text used in the topics presented has been extracted from relevant ENISA publications. Interested parties may read and use this material and, if necessary, look for further details in the publicly–available, full documents. The selection of the reports was done in order to deliver content that is relevant and can be directly used for educational purposes.

In the policy flagship of the European Commission, The Digital Agenda for Europe, it is mentioned: “Youth engagement will make the Digital Agenda a reality.” The information included in the consolidated ENISA report supports the process of being better informed, better educated and better involved in the area of NIS, thus contributing towards the objectives of the Digital Agenda.

The ENISA report is aimed at all individuals who are concerned with primary education. This includes parents, guardians and educators, and responsible state authorities such as ministries, national organisations related to education, volunteer organisations and interest groups. Furthermore, this material can be used by teenagers to get an insight into various NIS issues in the NIS topics that are addressed.

Covered Topics

The present work was the result of a fruitful cooperation between the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade of Luxembourg and ENISA. This cooperation was based on the State’s available educational material and that of ENISA, which has been condensed so as to add value to the material of Luxembourg and for the use of other interested entities. After consultation with various stakeholders, we have short-listed ENISA deliverables to the following topics:

  • Cyber bullying and online grooming;
  • Children accessing virtual worlds;
  • Awareness-raising quiz;
  • Guidelines for parents, guardians and educators;
  • Security issues of online, social networking;
  • Cookies;
  • Security issues of virtual worlds; and
  • Secure printing.

The format selected for presenting information in the pamphlets consists of:

  • a short description of the topic/area;
  • a reference to main findings/recommendations;
  • a reference to the full text; and
  • a set of slides that can be used for presentation purposes (modified as needed).

Our aim is to put interested stakeholders in the position of being able to extract learning objectives from the consolidated information and embed them in their teaching approaches. Due to the assumption that the information in this report will be reused and adapted to particular educational needs and existing educational methods, we have not enhanced its layout. It should also be noted that the present material is a compilation of relevant ENISA work that has been delivered during the past three to four years.

Some Additional Reflections

In discussions with experts before and after the delivery of the ENISA work on NIS in education, some interesting aspects have been identified that we would like to mention here. They concern some principles and good practices that have been drawn from experience while teaching NIS in schools, at parent associations and also expert workshops.

Some of the issues discussed included how to achieve a better sharing of good security practices, namely by means of:

  • basic teaching about emotional issues and not just technical ones;
  • the application of successful partnership models for a better and more efficient outreach;
  • the adoption of roles for teachers as multipliers in schools;
  • the use of existing material about information security policy for schools;
  • the use of international research and communication.

Another area that is worth mentioning relates to the way kids understand and learn about technology:

  • Parents think that kids are technologically advanced. This is wrong. Kids do not understand the way computers and the Internet work. They are just not afraid to ‘press the button’.
  • Kids cannot understand that the Internet is a huge international network with billions of users 24/7. They think that they and their classmates are the only users and that it is switched on when they interact.
  • Kids learn more efficiently from their peers. They are trusted more than their parents. It is, therefore, very efficient to use older kids to teach the younger ones.

Conclusions

As Internet safety concerns all of us in our role of student or peer, parent or educator, ENISA encourages the reader to remain conversant with the safety information available from all sources. Use it as much as possible and disseminate it appropriately.

We propose to update our ENISA publications and provide additional pamphlets as security issues relevant to education surface during the coming year.

Acknowledgements

The ENISA report is the outcome of a collective effort between the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade of Luxembourg and ENISA. The authors would like to thank Mr Francois Thill, Assistant Director for Communications, and his team, for the open and constructive cooperation that facilitated the generation of this material.

 

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