The Case for Secure Remote Connectivity in Education

ILAN PARETSKY on July 26, 2016 | 2455

By its nature, education is a collaborative environment. It should enable students and teachers to learn by communicating with each other and sharing information. In an ideal world, the IT infrastructure of universities, high schools and other types of learning institutions are based on a model of “openness,” characterized by few restrictions on the place and devices used to access information from, as well as on who the user communicates with.

I wonder if the above scenario is a feasible reality. Unlimited communication and collaboration stimulate learning, but for this to succeed, it seems the entire education sector has to face the increasingly dangerous effects of cyber threats. 

According to a recent study that raises questions about educational institutions’ ability to cope with the rising tide of hacking, more than a third of UK universities are hit by a successful cyber-attack every hour! In May 2015 a cyber-attack on the University of London’s computer center left staff and students at 150 institutions without access to their virtual learning environment.

What are the consequences of cyber-attacks on Education?

Such attacks can leave staff, students and institutions’ economic interests highly vulnerable.  Reputational damage (79 percent), and national security threats (77 percent), are the worst consequences of data breaches, according to the same study conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne. Such attacks target personal student data, including medical information. Educational attacks frequently target research materials and intellectual property.

Banning technology is not the solution

Technology is fundamental to the way in which young people learn – and as technology evolves, so too must education. Technology helps schools meet the demand for digital and distance learning. Educational institutions should leverage technology to support the advanced learning environment. The use of smartphones, laptops and tablets supplements campus life and boosts student and teacher achievement and satisfaction.

BYOD access presents many challenges, especially in the area of security and IT management. Allowing students and staff to connect their personal devices to the school's network can expose sensitive data. College and university IT departments are often tasked with supporting thousands of users, end-user devices and, in some cases, multiple campus locations. Hence, it is essential to find ways to ease the IT staff’s burden of managing, configuring and securing a variety of user devices.

By taking advantage of clientless, browser-based access technologies, IT staff can provide access to academic resources without having to worry about maintaining and installing software and patches on a broad array of devices. An HTML5 remote desktop access connection broker and virtualization technologies, such as Ericom AccessNow and Ericom Connect provide access to hosted desktops, applications, and data. In these environments, a user’s desktop and applications run on a remote server instead of on the endpoint device (e.g., desktop, laptop, tablet, Chromebook or smartphone),.

Ericom’s HTML5, browser-based access solution, AccessNow, provides access to remote virtual desktops and applications using any HTML5-supported browser, including from Chromebooks. This makes for simple access to desktops and applications, and significantly reduces technical support issues. From an IT perspective, HTML5-based solutions also enable academic institutions to streamline their technological infrastructure. Less time is required to administer ongoing patch and device configuration management. Moreover, IT staff do not need to support individual devices because everything is maintained and delivered via a centralized platform, web browsers, and the Internet, and nothing is installed on the endpoint device. The HTML5 remote desktop solution integrates with Ericom’s Secure Gateway for secure, encrypted, single-port entry into the organizational network.

Schools need high-quality, low-cost solutions to address network security. Ericom provides reliable tools for remote desktop access and an HTML5 RDP client to ensure that neither device compatibility nor security are overlooked.

Author | 36 Blog Posts

Ilan Paretsky

Chief Marketing Officer | Ericom Software

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