ICT Report – student device care and malware

July 22, 2021

By ICT Manager Eliesha Knox and Ian Fernée 1:1 eLearning Coordinator

Given the global move to remote learning and working from home we need to be cautious and proactive against our online behaviours so that we limit risk to ourselves and those around us. Malware is one of these risks as it is malicious software intentionally designed to cause damage on a computer system. Those with malicious intent know that those at home are not protected by the same security that a school or workplace has and they seek to take advantage of this. During this time of remote learning the St Patrick’s College community is relying on the student body to be cautious online.

The 1:1 device program is an integral part of many learning programmes at the College and a critical necessity to facilitate continuity of learning during periods of remote learning. We are seeing a large increase of students attempting to download and install free or cracked versions of games on their machine and accessing digital content that would be classed as suspicious. These are not legitimate versions of games and often come with malware that can track your online movements, steal passwords, and obtain personal and sensitive information. The school does have monitoring systems in place, but these can only do so much, especially when the students are offsite.

If we are notified of a potential threat on a device, the College ICT team are obligated to act to prevent further damage to systems and will be forced to lock out a device to prevent further impact to school systems. This obviously has impact on a student’s ability to engage in digital remote learning, stay up to date with his classwork and complete set tasks, but these types of threats cannot be left to cause damage in the background. Often, the machine will need to be brought into the school so that it can be wiped to ensure the threat is removed. If a student’s device becomes infected with malware the College ICT team will contact the student and parent to advise that a threat has been detected and what is required for this to be resolved.

The best way we can combat this issue is for the students to be doing the right thing and thinking about the risks associated with piracy. Downloading or even streaming movies illegally can result in damage to their machine and can result in legal action by your service provider. Please have a talk with your son(s) about the dangers of downloading illegal content to their machines.

I will also remind students that this is a breach of the device agreement signed at the start of each year by parents and students which can also be followed up by disciplinary action by the school. This agreement can be located on the College website here.

Device care is also very important whilst offsite. Please do not leave your laptop sitting on the couch, bed or floor. This will block the vents and cause the machine to overheat which can cause damage to the internals. Best place to work is to be sitting at a desk or table, ensuring that charging cables are tucked away so they are not tripped over. This is a good habit to get into whenever you are using a device.

We hope that we can see everyone back onsite when possible and that students are able to continue their learning whilst at home through digital platforms like Microsoft Teams and SIMON. Please also reach out to the ICT team if your son is having any sort of problem with their device.