Are Your Files and E-Mails Safe?

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One of the first things taught to pupils in ICT lessons is basic security - things like "don't write down your passwords". However, even the most well protected passwords can be made useless by simple human error.
Lists of things such as e-mail passwords, Novell passwords, and even library records are available to anyone who cares to look around - you don't even have to be looking for them; just browse around the public drives and you'll find all kinds of interesting things just laying around.

Overmark has been browsing around, and we've found several databases of confidential information, ranging from your login details to your e-mail address and password. With this information we could log in as you, or as a teacher, or read your e-mail, or even see what books you've borrowed from the library. We took all this information and compiled it into a single database, a copy of which has been given to the school as proof of our accusations. We emphasise that none of this information was obtained by breaking any ICT department rules or "hacking" - This information was all available un-encrypted, un-passworded files.

Thankfully, these have only been made public by accident (we assume) - they're just files that somebody forgot to delete. As a result, theye a few months out-of-date, and anyone who changed their password recently is safe. If you haven't changed your password in the last few months we recommend you change it immediately, and this applies to your Novell password and you Medway LEA e-mail password.

Its not just file security which is wrong with the ICT department, a lack of up-to-date software means some programs are now more than eight years old, which although may not sound much, in computer terms that's like wearing clothes from the seventies. As a result of these poor network facilities some pupils in sixth form are having their Computer Science lessons at The Howard School through our consortium where there are more modern and reliable facilities.

Part of the problem is probably a lack of dedicated technicians with the teachers always busy teaching, there's no one to keep the network in order. As a result the central server is going offline more and more often, and the workstations are being left unfixed when CD or floppy drives get broken. We point out that this is of no fault of Mr Wells, Mr Wilson or Mrs Jenson; they have been doing a sterling job keeping the network running, as well as installing new interactive whiteboards, considering that they are not paid to be nor qualified to be technicians. Mr Moore informed us that two replacement technicians have been found, and are just working out their current contracts.

As we enter the exam season, there'll hopefully be a bit more free time for the ICT department - we hope that they can spend some of it cleaning up, and maybe replacing, some of the worn out parts of the system.