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N4L reaches halfway mark in security rollout

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 19 February 2019, 10:13 am

Network for Learning (N4L), the Crown company that provides internet services to 99% of New Zealand schools and kura, is halfway through its rollout of new cybersecurity technology from Fortinet.

N4L has today announced that 1300 of the 2450-plus schools in its network have deployed the enterprise-grade firewall and web filtering solutions. In addition to Fortinet, technology partners include Spark and a panel of 12 local technology companies, which are visiting each school during the rollout. The upgrade is  expected to be completed in June.

It is the first major refresh of the managed network since it began in 2013 as part of the Ultra Fast Broadband programme. The Crown-owned company was incorporated in 2012 and ownership is held equally between two shareholding Ministers, the Ministers of Finance and Education.

"The cyber security rollout is the first phase of a wider upgrade to N4L's managed network, and will improve a schools' protection against online threats, such as phishing and ransomware; provide more advanced web filtering tools to keep students safer online; and will better equip schools to block the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) used by students attempting to bypass web filtering," says N4L CEO Larrie Moore.

In 2018 N4L blocked more than 1.2 million security threats, and schools using N4L's web filtering tools blocked more than 1.1 billion websites across the managed network.

N4L says that a report from Fortinet shows that globally new malware variants are increasing "at an alarming rate, growing 43% throughout the last quarter alone" and that a 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report indicates the education sector was the most-targeted industry in Australia, accounting for 26% of all attacks.

"Schools are more vulnerable to cyber attacks if they aren't equipped with the technology and skills to manage these risks. While technology is not a silver bullet, the expertise and technology being deployed in every school is world class, and will play a big part in detecting and preventing attacks, and mitigating the impact to schools," Moore says.

Schools are proving to be voracious users of data, with N4L reporting that more than 4 petabytes of data is consumed every month by 825,000 students and teachers using the Managed Network.

"The next phase of the nationwide Managed Network upgrade programme will be providing eligible schools with access to bandwidth speeds of 1Gb by October. N4L will also be rolling out new reporting tools to help schools better understand and manage student internet use, including how much bandwidth they are using; which apps are using this bandwidth; and potential breaches of the school's internet use policy," Moore says.



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