Security and Privacy

Article excerpt

Concerns over information security have increased since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which emphasized the need for government-wide planning, collaboration and security. This tragedy revealed how federal and local governments had thousands of incompatible information systems, not only to capture and share information about terrorists, but to aid the police officers, fire fighters and rescue crews. The recently established Department of Homeland Security will serve as a central clearinghouse to collect and analyze data related to terrorism. At least eight major agencies and a number of smaller ones will funnel information to this new department. However, in a recent column in The New York Times, William Satire expressed concern that "every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy, every medicine prescription, every Web site visited and e-mail sent or received, every trip and event attended will go into what the Defense Department describes as a virtual centralized general database."

Security Steps Up

A variety of security problems was expressed by a group of IT managers and school administrators at the National School Boards Association's Technology+Learning Conference held last month in Dallas. Concern was expressed regarding both inside and outside security, including network security, proper use of ID cards, spam e-mail, content filtering of information, student disregard of privacy, and protection against hackers. Anti-virus protection is a particular problem, because students bring in disks that contain viruses from home computers that can crash the network.

Plano Independent School District in Texas uses an anti-virus solution that allows the district to manage its approximately 23,000 workstations from a single point of management. All updates are pushed from a centralized location to local servers and configured to work with the desktop so that security is completely transparent to the end user.

Copyright protection and its misuse by students is also a continuing problem. …