December 11, 2023
CITE 2023: Optimize Your Education Environment for Data Protection
Experts from Google and CDW shared best practices for enhancing the security capabilities in Google Workspace for Education domains.
Protecting student data is a key responsibility of IT departments in today’s highly digital education environment.
IT administrators should use all the tools at their disposal to keep their infrastructures secure. For many districts, this means taking advantage of the settings and configurations in Google Workspace for Education. However, not all admins are aware of the precise configurations that will best benefit their schools. At this year’s CITE conference in Sacramento, Calif., experts shared tips and best practices for Google Workspace users.
The session “Protecting District Data and Driving Adoption with Google Workspace for Education” drew a large crowd of Google users. In fact, K–12 consultants for CDW Education John Guerrero and Alexis Reed spoke to a room so full of IT and education leaders that attendees were standing along the walls to listen.
They demonstrated the tools they spoke about within the Admin Console of Google Workspace for Education, noting which tools were available to Standard or Plus Edition users. The open nature of the conversation encouraged questions from the audience and active participation, as K–12 IT pros learned new ways to use this platform to keep students safe.
Identify and Act on Suspicious Trends in the Security Dashboard
Guerrero and Reed pointed out many of the security features in Google’s Admin Console. In particular, they highlighted the usefulness of the security dashboard as a way to identify trends within a school’s network.
“You’re going to have a lot of peaks and valleys. You’re going to be able to see a lot of trends that are happening,” Guerrero said of the data visualizations in the dashboard.
He then walked attendees through a made-up scenario in which educators were receiving spam emails asking for personal information. He showed how IT admins could sort emails by those that contained the word “password” and, subsequently, see how users were responding to these emails.
“We’re constantly getting more and more granular until we get to a point where we can take action. We can delete this message. We can mark it as phishing. If it was a false negative, we might consider sending back to the end user’s inbox,” Guerrero explained.
“I think that’s one key thing about the investigation tool. It’s a little overwhelming unless you have a puzzle you’re trying to put together,” added Carl Behmer, a CDW Amplified for Education associate consultancy manager who attended the presentation to help answer audience questions.
Take Proactive Steps Toward Cybersecurity
The session also offered insights into proactive steps IT teams could take to secure their Google environments. Reed shared examples of settings to adjust in Gmail.
These settings primarily revolve around restricting delivery and file sharing for students. Reed noted a time when students had figured out how to access games on their school-issued devices by sending each other Android Package Kit files.
In another CITE 2023 session, “Google Admin Updates with Solutions Engineers,” Google for Education solutions engineers Jack Cupples and Elise Hawkins shared proactive changes from the vendor side.
One such update is the implementation of analytics for Google Classroom. Another big change follows a Google Workspace for Education update from earlier this year.
IT admins can now bulk-configure requested applications in the Admin Console, or they can choose to turn off the request link. “If you know which apps you want to configure for your users under 18, and you don’t want them to fill up that request queue with things they’re trying to get to, you can now turn off that request link,” Hawkins said. “That is going to be a setting on the app access control page.”
These features in Google Workspace for Education can only benefit K–12 learning environments’ security if IT departments configure them correctly. Working with Google Workspace experts can help schools determine the right settings for their network.
Story by Rebecc Torchia, an editor for EdTech: Focus on K–12. Driven by curiosity and a passion for learning, she has written for many industries, with work appearing in WeddingWire, Modern Luxury DC and Pro Construction Guide. She has also helped bring numerous podcasts to life. When she’s not working, this Pittsburgh native, now Maryland resident, enjoys hiking, D&D and planning her next getaway.