In March 2020, as schools closed and home-schooling was introduced for most children, there was one unforeseen consequence – a noticeable rise in cyber-attacks on schools.
This led to increased awareness of the issue, with the Department for Education urging headteachers to urgently review their cyber security defences.
Recently, we’ve been working with an educational tech firm to increase cyber security in schools, protecting systems from such attacks.
Middlesbrough’s Secure Schools, which provides cyber security solutions for the education sector, was set up in 2018 by cyber security expert Paul Alberry and former multi-academy trust CEO Jill Foster, who recognised that many UK schools and academy trusts had been under-investing in cyber security.
They designed a prototype programme to build cyber resilience in the education sector and, after receiving funding from Tees Valley Business Compass and the NCSC’s Cyber Accelerator programme, it was over to us to bring it to life.
We created an app which sits at the core of the company’s cyber security services for schools and academy trusts, enabling schools to test and understand their cyber resilience including the ability to simulate real-life cyber-attacks.
Our commercial director, Paul Drake, said: “Paul from Secure Schools had already created a detailed brief, which made the job of proposing a technology stack and solution easier.
“It was a fantastic programme to work on, not least because they knew what they wanted, which is very rare. They had a great idea and it’s nice to see a start-up succeed.
“Working with us also meant that Secure Schools had access to a full development team with over 15 years in business designing and developing software solutions. The costs to do this internally with the same level of expertise would have been prohibitive for a start-up business.”
Paul Alberry added: “The app has enabled us to serve hundreds of schools in the UK, including delivering cyber security awareness training to thousands of staff across England.
“More than 1,200 schools accessed Secure Schools’ free cyber resilience resources in response to the first coronavirus lockdown to help them secure their systems during home working, before continuing to work together on building their cyber security strategy.”
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