In an increasingly digital world, early years and childcare providers are reliant on technology now, more than ever. The move towards keeping digital records about children in your care is a welcome escape from the physical paperwork, but storing that data comes with responsibility. Without necessary precautions, you could be open to a cyber attack, or have your online security compromised, regardless of the size of your setting.
With input from PACEY and other stakeholders, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published new guidance specifically for early years and childcare providers to help to reduce the risk of cyber incidents and protect settings. The NCSC guidance suggests four simple steps to help you improve cyber security and keep your information safe online:
Backing up information
As an early years and childcare provider, you hold personal data and information on your business, staff and the children and families you support, all of which can be a target for cyber criminals. Backing up your data on a separate device or ‘in the cloud’ is an important step in protecting information that may be lost due to an accident, theft or cyber attack.
Protecting your devices from viruses and malware
Malicious software (malware) and viruses can affect your devices in different ways. The NCSC recommends having your anti-virus software switched on and your devices kept up to date so they can offer the best protection against cyber attacks.
Dealing with scam messages
Scam or ‘phishing’ emails can often look convincing, but trick you into sharing personal information or downloading a dangerous attachment.The NCSC has issued advice on how to identify scam messages and what to do if you accidentally open one.
Use of passwords
Ensure that your devices, data and online accounts are protected with a strong password lock and/or other methods such as Face or Fingerprint ID. Make sure that you use different passwords across your accounts, and avoid predictable or common passwords to minimise the risk of someone unauthorised accessing these.
Geraint Barton from Kinderly, PACEY’s trusted online partner, comments: “You should have a unique password for every online service you use, which is updated on a regular basis, but in reality, this makes it difficult to remember all the various passwords. At Kinderly we recommend using a trusted password manager like Google Chrome to store strong passwords.
“Google Chrome’s Password Check-up service is a great way to keep track if any of your passwords have been compromised. It will keep you regularly notified of any new breaches detected, meaning you can then change them swiftly.”
A 3-phase system for passwords
Kinderly also recommends a '3 phrase system' to create strong, memorable and unique passwords:
Simply select two related words or phrases which you will be able to remember and reuse – in this instance we have chosen example and blog
Combine these two words with the name of the website or service you are using, such as, examplebloghotmail and capitalise each word i.e. ExampleBlogHotmail
- Replace two different letters with a number or a symbol such as Ex@mp&eB&ogHotm@i&. You can then re-use the first section of the password to create unique passwords combined with the names of the other online services you use.
Kinderly Together features a 52 step security plan to keep users safe from servers to staff policies, and data storage to data transfer. For more information on Kinderly visit: http://bit.ly/Kinderly_secure
Read the full NCSC guidance for early years and childcare here.