BYOD initiatives are popular, but they present unique security challenges.

A new report from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), titled “Safe & Secure? Managing the Risks of Personal Devices,” examines today’s advancing Bring Your Own (BYO) initiatives and related safety and security risks facing school districts nationwide.

“Apps and mobile devices are being utilized more and more in education, forcing schools to reexamine their mobile device policies,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger. “These continuous advancements are creating an unprecedented set of safety and security challenges for school leaders, so it’s imperative that leaders are prepared and have at their fingertips a set of technical solutions to prevent data breaches and protect personal devices.”

The report outlines leading BYO initiatives—namely, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own Network (BYON), and Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) / Bring Your Own Applications (BYOA)—and explains the factors driving these initiatives, including ensuring that students receive a 21st-century education and lowering district costs.

But BYO initiatives have created safety and security risks in schools, the report says, including…

  • Student safety: Students who own such devices are becoming the targets of theft or physical harm.
  • Device theft or damage: Districts could be liable if a student-owned device is stolen or damaged.
  • Inappropriate student (and staff) use: Cyber bullying, sexting, cheating, or accessing inappropriate content or websites.
  • Data and network breaches: Hacking or unauthorized access to data or computing resources.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in relation to student-owned devices.

In addition, the report provides real-life examples of solutions to address these challenges effectively and includes information about the most preferred technologies for mitigating mobile security risks. This section of the report also provides a table detailing the solutions that provide the recommended protections and notes their advantages. Solutions include wireless authentication, federated identity management, and virtual desktops.

The BYO movement is gaining steam in part because of stretched school budgets that don’t allow schools to purchase technology tools or update existing technology.

“Bring Your Own initiatives can reduce the cost burden to districts by shifting some costs of device purchases and internet access to families—while still providing educational benefits,” the report says.

BYO opponents maintain that the initiatives don’t address access issues and that students who do not own devices do not have the same level of technology and information access, because they often use spare classroom devices and are not able to use the devices outside of the classroom.

CoSN’s EdTechNext Reports are a series of mini-reports developed to keep educators up to speed on the latest trends in educational technology. They provide a brief introduction to new and emerging technologies and insight about their educational value. Sponsors of the reports include Adobe, Comcast, Gartner, GlobalScholar, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, HP, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, Lightspeed Systems, Pearson, PolyVision, Qualcomm, SAS, SchoolDude, SMART Technologies, and Wireless Generation.

To learn more about the report, which is available only to CoSN members, go to www.cosn.org/EdTechNext.