Crown company Network for Learning (N4L) says schools and kura across New Zealand are now better protected from cyber threats and harmful websites following the nationwide rollout of new technology.
The rollout is part of an upgrade to the government-funded ‘managed network’ which provides 825,000-plus students, teachers and school staff across New Zealand with smart and safe internet for teaching and learning.
The new system has already prevented millions of malicious online threats and inappropriate websites from reaching New Zealand schools and their students, says N4L, in a statement.
N4L says in May alone, it blocked more than four million cyber security threats and also prevented more than three million attempts to gain unauthorised access to school systems. In the same month, N4L filtering tools have stopped more than 399 million attempts to access inappropriate content.
N4L CEO Larrie Moore says the company’s job is far from complete: “Running the country’s largest managed network with more than 825,000 people using our services every day, comes with enormous responsibility.
“Safety and security is a top priority for our company and there will always be work to do behind the scenes, with our government and technology partners, to keep the internet a fantastic, positive, safe place for learning."
Moore says that technology is not a silver bullet, that responsible digital citizenship is also needed for a safe online experience.
He credits the success of the rollout, which averaged 225 schools every month, by working closely with the Ministry of Education, the schools’ local technology partners, and the company’s key technology partner, Spark, as well as cybersecurity company Fortinet, which supplies the enterprise-grade firewall and web filtering system for every school.
Kim Shannon, head of infrastructure service at the Ministry of Education, says over the last five years, the government has invested more than $140 million in N4L “so schools and kura can have a safer online learning environment especially where harmful content is easily accessible in today’s digital world.’’
Wellington’s Seatoun school was among the last of the 2,450-plus schools to be upgraded.
Principal John Western told Minister of Education Chris Hipkins at an event marking the rollout’s completion that it’s reassuring to be able to let parents and the wider community know their kids are safer when using the internet at school.
“We have worried about a safe learning environment forever - and certainly after the events in Christchurch, it only brought home how easy things can go wrong for people to access things on the internet,” says Western.
“I believe we have a duty of care to make sure the experience is as safe as possible for our young learners. So that means we need to have some confidence that they won’t inadvertently go to the wrong place or see the wrong thing.
“We’ve used N4L for a long time and we have some scripting and certificates on all our devices to ensure we are even filtering Google images.”
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