AUCKLAND, New Zealand – October 14, 2019 – The company managing internet services for schools and kura, The Network for Learning (N4L), has recorded a 54% increase in the number of cyber security threats it has blocked for schools between the second and third calendar quarter of 2019.
Within a typical school day N4L blocks more than 2.7 million cyber security threats targeting schools. These threats include phishing scams, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and websites infected with destructive or malicious software specifically designed to disrupt or attack computer systems without the user’s consent.
During the third quarter of this year, from July to September 2019, N4L blocked more than 222 million cyber security threats from reaching schools; stopped 10 million attempts to gain unauthorised access to schools’ internet systems; and blocked access to more than 2.2 billion sites considered inappropriate by school principals across Aotearoa New Zealand.
This compares to 144 million cyber security threats blocked in the previous quarter (from April – June); 7.2 million attempts to gain unauthorised access to schools’ internet systems; and 1 billion blocked sites considered inappropriate by school principals.
Reports from CERT NZ and N4L’s cyber security technology partner Fortinet show online threats are on the rise, with the volume, variety and sophistication of cyber attacks intensifying.
N4L plays an important role in protecting schools online, and these numbers highlight the importance of Cyber Smart Week, a nationwide cyber security awareness campaign held this week by CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) NZ, a government agency providing information and advice around online threats as well as a means of reporting incidents.
Schools are not immune from these online threats, with CERT NZ’s most recent quarterly report listing “education and training” among the top five industries most affected by cyber threats from 1 April to 30 June 2019.
The 2450+ schools across New Zealand using N4L’s services are better protected against cyber threats thanks to a recent upgrade to N4L’s firewall and filtering services that strengthens their protection from these cyber threats and also blocks harmful websites depicting child abuse, pornography, extremism, drug use and self-harm.
“Network security is a top priority for N4L and we play an important role in helping schools keep students safe online,” says CEO Larrie Moore. “Cyber safety and security is an area that requires ongoing vigilance and education. No organisation is immune and we are using robust technology used by governments, and businesses worldwide to help protect schools falling victim to cyber attacks.”
Mr Moore cautions that technology is not a silver bullet – and must be combined with best practice around digital citizenship, provided by organisations like CERT NZ and Netsafe.
N4L also works in partnership with global cyber security company Fortinet, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Office of Film and Literature, and the education sector to identify and block new harmful sites as they appear.
Earlier this month, N4L was named a finalist across two categories in both the annual TUANZ Broadband Compare Awards and Reseller News Innovation Awards for the work it is doing to provide 825,000-plus school internet users safer and smart internet services.
This week students return to school for their fourth and final term of the year, with many using the internet to do their homework or sit digital exams.
About CERT NZ
CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) NZ works to support businesses, organisations and individuals who are affected (or may be affected) by cyber security incidents. CERT NZ offer a number of tips and guidance on keeping school networks safe. See:
About The Network for Learning (N4L)
N4L is a Crown company supporting government’s goals for education through its ‘Managed Network’ services, which connect 99.7% of New Zealand schools including kura to safe, fast, reliable internet services that are fully funded and supported for schools. The company was named New Zealand’s 2018 Broadband Provider of the Year and works alongside education, government, and technology partners to help schools get the most from digital connectivity.
About N4L safety and security
Schools can use N4L filtering to block access to social media and other sites they want students to avoid. They can prevent students from attempting to bypass this filtering by blocking the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).
In tandem, N4L applies a universal level of filtering to block 14 categories of harmful web content, such as websites depicting explicit violence, substance abuse, extremist groups and illicit hacking activities. The company also mitigates the impact of cyber threats, such as phishing scams, ransomware, and DDoS attacks; and stops unauthorised attempts to access school data.
During N4L’s 2019 reporting period, N4L blocked more than 582 million security threats from impacting school internet users (1 July 2018- 30 June 2019).