Chief executive goes public with plan after DDoS attack disrupted schools’ internet connectivity
The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) is planning to set up a cyber centre of excellence to support schools using its network.
Chief executive John Jackson (pictured) told UKAuthority of the plan on the day that the network was the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) that, while not bringing it down, caused connectivity problems for several minutes.
Jackson said the incident indicated the level of threat in the cyber world, even for the education sector, and that it prompted him to go public with the plan that has been in the pipeline for some time.
“For a few minutes this morning there was some disruption from a DDoS attack,” he said on Friday afternoon. “We spotted and dealt with it, but it caused internet access to slow down for a significant proportion of our schools.
“It shows the time has come when we really need to get our heads together, and show what the LGfL can do to show leadership. Our intention is to create a body inside LGfL that can provide leadership and advice for schools in cyber security, help with best practice and work across the industry.”
Jackson said the plan has been in the pipeline for some time but that Friday’s incident will accelerate the work. The centre should be up and running in about six months, and it has been allocated a budget to support its operations.
“We need to help schools understand the whole agenda,” he said. “We want to build up awareness of what issues they face and what is best practice. There’s a need to build a network of like minded people to defend against the threats.”
He likened it to LGfL’s existing DigiSafe network to spread best practice in keeping children safe online.
LGfL has taken previous steps to promote cyber security in schools. Last year the organisation provided advice to its members in the aftermath of the WannaCry attack which created considerable disruption in the NHS. Its CyberProtect guidance provided a series of recommendations to members for protection against cyber threats.
Jackson said that it has also recently struck a deal with Malwarebytes, the supplier of an anti-malware software, to make its enterprise version available for schools in the network free of charge.
LGfL provides a number of digital services for the education sector and local authorities – on a subscription basis – including its high speed broadband network and managed network services.