Using a Windows 7 laptop? Please Read

Over the summer Schools ICT was alerted to a serious incident which led to a “Notification of a personal data breach ” reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

A laptop was stolen from a teacher’s home during a break-in.

The hard drive contained files which potentially contained pupil sensitive data. As it was an old Windows 7 laptop the data held on the hard drive was not automatically protected by encryption.

All later versions of Windows – that’s Windows 10 – are configured differently and data held on the device is encrypted and a hard drive is protected by BitLocker. So if a Windows 10 computer is stolen it is very difficult to access data and information even when the hard drive is removed.

A further risk for Windows 7 devices is that if the school also uses the Microsoft Offline Files and Folders synchronisation system, which allows staff to see their Home folders outside of the school network, all documents in the home folder can easily be accessed by a third party.

Schools ICT recommends:

  • Upgrade to a Windows 10 device
  • Make sure BitLocker encryption is turned on – Windows 10 Devices only. Call the Schools ICT Help Desk for advice.
  • Ensure passwords are complex (a mix of letters, numbers and characters)
  • If members of staff want to access their work at home then store the files in the secure Microsoft cloud using Office 365 OneDrive and SharePoint or Google GSuite. Schools ICT can help you set this up.
  • If you don’t need it then leave your laptop at school in a locked cupboard. Minimise the risk of it being stolen.
  • If you must use a USB memory storage stick ensure it is encrypted.
  • Do not print out school data – this would also be a data breach

For any advice or to check the security of your laptop then contact the Schools ICT Help Desk where one of our agents is waiting to take your call.

Opening hours are:

  • Monday to Thursday - 8:00am to 5:00pm
  • Friday - 8:00am to 4:30pm
  • Out of hours email and web requests will be actioned on the next working day.


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