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4 reasons why patch management tools are essential in education

15th May 2017

Last Friday, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the global cyber-attack which has caused mass disruption across the NHS. The ransomware attack targeted organisations in 150 countries, including the US delivery firm Fedex, French auto manufacturer Renault, and gas and telecoms providers in Spain, amongst other reported incidents in Russia, Australia, Sweden and Norway.

The unprecedented scale of the cyber-attack has understandably raised concerns about the security of IT networks, regardless of an organisation’s industry or size. As school IT infrastructures continue to grow in size and complexity, with many networks spanning multiple locations and accommodating various devices and resources, security concerns are inevitable. When a network is at risk, the organisation is at risk – and that’s why the importance of patch management in education has never been greater.

Here are 4 reasons why patch management tools are essential in education.

  1. The impact on learning

School education environments have changed dramatically as a result of technology. If a school’s IT infrastructure is at risk, impacted in any way, or if resources are inaccessible, the benefits of digital learning are severely affected. The modern classroom relies on the integration of technology now more than ever, since the introduction of online exams, online research and resources. If this technology cannot be used, disruptive downtime is inevitable.

  1. Importance of sensitive data

As seen with last week’s ransomware attack, which locked users’ files and demanded payment in order to allow access, those responsible for malicious cyber-attacks see the value in an organisation’s data and often exploit it for financial gain. Schools hold extremely sensitive data on students, including personal details such as names and addresses, as well as those relating to progress records, safeguarding incidents or pastoral care concerns. If these records are inaccessible, stolen or get into the wrong hands, the safety of students can be placed at risk.

  1. Protection of technology resources

As schools continue to invest in the digital learning environment to increase student engagement and improve the learning experience, the number of software applications an IT department is required to manage inevitably grows. Any software or application can be prone to vulnerabilities and schools with myriad network users and devices further complicates the picture.

  1. The risks associated with manual processes

Often, software updates are communicated through pop-up windows on devices. Imagine if these patches and updates were performed by students or staff members – how would IT teams maintain visibility of installed patches and ensure that any updates don’t cause compatibility or instability issues? What’s more, when IT teams adopt a manual approach to the patch management process, the installation of patches can often be overlooked, leaving school networks wide open and susceptible to malicious exploits.

 

 

a best practice approach: how can schools protect their IT infrastructures?

Part of every school’s patch management strategy should include the implementation of a patch management solution. A good solution should provide the following patch management tools:

  • Automated detection and patching – automatically detecting vulnerabilities, and ensuring these are patched automatically, dramatically reduces the chance of school IT teams overlooking urgent patches.
  • Intelligent reporting – detailed reports provide IT teams with a complete overview of the current state of patching across all machines, so they remain informed and in complete control.
  • Scheduled patching – managing software updates still proves one of the most challenging and gruelling day-to-day tasks a school IT department can undertake. Creating policies to schedule updates overnight and during non-peak times saves IT teams masses of time and reduces disruptive downtime.

 

patch management tools and Impero Education Pro

When sourcing a solution for patch management, IT teams need a reliable and comprehensive suite of patch management tools designed to help effectively monitor the school’s IT estate. A robust patch management solution should offer automated detection and patching to ensure vulnerabilities are addressed before they can be exploited, prevent updated notifications from being overlooked, or accidentally patching the wrong version.

Impero Patch, an optional add-on module available with our flagship solution Impero Education Pro, is designed to keep your school’s software updated and its network secure. Using automated detection, the Impero Patch module patches Microsoft and more than 60 third-party applications (including Flash and Java) before vulnerabilities are exposed to the school network.  Find out more.

 

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