We’re proud to announce that last week we completed the rollout of new cyber security hardware to all schools and kura around New Zealand! The nationwide rollout, which was part of an upgrade to the Managed Network, has already prevented millions of malicious online threats and inappropriate websites from reaching New Zealand schools and their students. 

Wellington’s Seatoun School was among the last of 2,450+ schools to be upgraded, and principal John Western told Minister of Education Chris Hipkins at a small 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 John.

“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.”

John, along with two other principals – Rob Gilbert from Tauranga Boys College and Chris Jarnet from Ngaruawahia High School – feature in our latest video where they each speak about what the upgrade means for them and their school.

Kim Shannon, Head of Infrastructure Service at the Ministry of Education, says: “Over the last 5 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.’’ 

N4L CEO Larrie Moore says he is pleased with the rollout, but 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.” 

Larrie explains 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 global cybersecurity company Fortinet, which supplies the enterprise-grade firewall and web filtering solution that went into every school.   

Millions of online security threats blocked in May
In May, N4L blocked more than 4 million cyber security threats and also prevented more than 3 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.