Network for Learning’s first data and insights report shows schools faced more than 2,000 online threats a minute when they resumed teaching after last year’s nationwide lockdown.

The report covers online safety between April and July 2020. It includes 22 days of remote learning when students were away from N4L’s managed network. During this time N4L blocked more than 120 million individual threats.

N4L saw a spike in distributed denial of service attacks in the week of May 24, when students had returned to school.

Schools were not alone, all forms of online crime surged as the pandemic sent students and workers home. There were more threats and the severity of threats increased. Many were designed to prey on people’s anxieties triggered by Covid. The criminals also saw opportunity with people using less secure home networks.

Phishing scams, malware and unauthorised attempts to access the school network remain the most common cyber security threats.

While N4L works to keep students safe from harm, pornography represented just 1.4 percent of blocked websites. It also works to keep students focused on learning. Two-thirds of blocked sites were file-sharing, social networking, games, online storage and free software downloads.

New Zealand school internet use continues to rise. The N4L network consumed 9.9 petabytes of data. The average consumption is around a gigabyte per student.

N4L CEO Larrie Moore says: “This year we are building our security operations capabilities, providing greater cyber security support to schools and continuing a four-year Ministry of Education programme to upgrade the wireless networks inside schools.”