Storing data on the ‘Cloud’ is encouraged as a convenient and easy way to access data on any computer/laptop that has internet access. It is common for teachers to use dropbox, skydrive and Google Drive to save plans and other data relevant to school. Teachers and school management must realise that the “schools, as is the case with any person or organisation handling personal data, must comply with the Data Protection Acts. Personal data collected by schools for their own purposes is the responsibility of the school as they are the Data Controller” (NCTE website). The NCTE website gives a number of tips on how to be keep your data secure and urges schools to consider whether sensitive data should be stored off the school grounds.
The first security step that all schools and teachers should take with their laptops is to have strong passwords. Check the strength of your password on Passwordmeter.com.
I have also noticed that many schools and teachers do not have Anti-virus software on their laptops and thus are leaving themselves open to breaches of security. There are many free antivirus sofware tools available that automatically update their databases to protect your PC. The one that I would recommend is AVG 2013 Free. If teachers are willing to pay for their Antivirus software Norton Internet Security gives protection for three personal PCs for €59.99.
Microsoft word is probably the most commonly used word processor by teachers and has a basic password protection feature that should be used on documents that contain school data. This can be found under File -> Info.
Microsoft Skydrive will not allow you to view password protected word documents online and the user will have to supply the password to view it on a laptop/computer.
If someone is using Google Drive and has a Smartphone they can add a second layer of security to their account by installing the Google Authenticator App on their phone. This will create a unique 6 digit code every minute that will be needed to login to the Google Drive account.
These are just some security measures that schools and teachers can take to protect data on their laptops or computers. It is important that teachers be professional when dealing with school data and take basic security steps to ensure that this data is protected. Also, as advised by the NCTE do not take sensitive data off the school campus if you do not need to.