Why it's important to educate schools about the risks of tape and manual-based backups

A large portion of schools still do not have a thorough backup regime in place
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Ronak Patel, internal sales account manager at Redstor, looks at the risks schools can face if their backup processes are not up to date.

Schools, like other organisations, have critical data that they need to securely store, protect and manage. With the introduction of new technology being used by schools, increasingly underpinning the curriculum, a school’s digital assets have never been more important.

Despite the importance and criticality of this data, a large portion of schools still do not have a thorough backup regime in place. Many are still utilising and relying on traditional manual or tape based solutions. In severe cases, there is no backup process at all!

More and more importance is given to a school’s MIS data and rightly so but the curriculum data is still not considered as critical by schools. With students doing more work digitally and the new computing curriculum firmly in place, schools now need to ensure they are placing the same emphasis on protecting their curriculum data as they do on their MIS data.

Furthermore, the media has recently been inundated with horror stories whereby schools have had their confidential data lost or compromised. These media stories have only highlighted the importance of ensuring school data is securely stored and managed.

Within the past few years there has been an influx of new technologies being developed within schools which have helped change teaching and the way students learn. Gone are the days of a handful of PCs and the occasional interactive whiteboard. Nowadays, schools are using new technologies to provide students and staff with more interactive ways of learning through better connectivity, collaborative working and unlimited access to online resources and tools.

Therefore making the task of data protection more difficult, is the never-ending data growth being experienced by schools. This challenge is further exacerbated by the need to ensure that the measures taken to ensure data security and integrity are in line with schools’ legal obligations. With schools needing to comply with the Data Protection Act, the Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS) and guidelines provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office, it’s clear why many schools struggle to fulfil their obligations.

In primary schools, where often little or no IT expertise is available, backups are usually undertaken by the school secretary or the School Business Manager. How confident are they that they can restore data when it really matters and how long are they spending managing the whole backup process – can this time be better spent elsewhere?

Taking data offsite for disaster recovery is seen as vital in the event that there is a complete data loss at the school but just taking backup tapes/media home or even leaving them in a fireproof safe poses a real risk to the school and their data. Backup media is very rarely encrypted so the data can easily be read or intercepted by a third party. This potentially provides unauthorised parties access to sensitive and/or critical information about the school, their students and their staff. Unfortunately we have all seen instances of this in the news, resulting in very negative publicity for the schools and genuine concern for those to whom the data relates.

Image source: Shuttertstock

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