Rollout of safer and smarter internet to 2,450 schools completed today
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, June 28, 2019 – Schools and kura across New Zealand are now better protected from cyber threats and harmful websites thanks to a nationwide rollout of new technology, which has been completed today by Crown company Network for Learning (N4L).
The nationwide 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 solution 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 today 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 Mr 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.”
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. ”
Mr 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 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.
About The Network for Learning (N4L)
N4L is a Crown company supporting government’s goals for education through its student-focused ‘Managed Network’, connecting 99.7% of New Zealand schools including kura to safe, fast, reliable internet services which 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. www.n4l.co.nz
About N4L safety and security
Schools can use N4L filtering to block access to social media and other sites they want students to avoid. 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.
Further, N4L mitigates the impact of cyber threats, such as phishing, ransomware, and DDoS attacks; and stops unauthorised attempts to access school data and better equips schools to manage students attempting to bypass web filtering.
Reports from CERT NZ1 and Fortinet2 show the online threat landscape is becoming increasingly complex, with the volume, variety and sophistication of cyber attacks intensifying. Schools are not immune from these threats and a report in Australia last year3 showed that education was the most cyber attacked sector across the Tasman.
1 Computer Emergency Response Team New Zealand – https://www.cert.govt.nz/
3 Education sector most attacked in Australia, May 2018