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MIS Systems Thread, Sims and FMS on laptop as offsite emergency in Technical; While updating some staff laptops to W7 - I can across one that I was told was used as an ...
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    Sims and FMS on laptop as offsite emergency

    While updating some staff laptops to W7 - I can across one that I was told was used as an off site emergency to access the systems from home in the event of the school being shut suddenly.

    I cannot see the reason nor justification for this and have refused to put the packages back on the unit - citing data protection and security.

    Does anyone else have or let this happen - or am I right on the security issue.
    (25 years working in schools - and this is the first time i've heard of this - its just plain wrong to me)

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    creese's Avatar
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    We have many schools using SIMS remotely. Providing the logins are secure there is no data protection problems. We use Google Authenticator.

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    Do you mean the databases are actually on the laptop ?

    We do actually use a laptop as part of our Disaster Recovery Plan - a script copies the databases to a laptop that sits in our office and the laptop goes home with me every day. If the school burns down, the laptop becomes the SIMS server for the first few hours we are operating out of the car park. But this is strictly controlled - the laptop is not used for anything else and has hardware encryption - without the key, it is useless. Only two people have the hardware key (and no we don't keep it in the bag with the laptop !)

    I can't see any problem in accessing the SIMS system remotely if the correct security systems are in place: many if not most, secondary schools I would have thought have some level of remote access these days.
    If someone is wandering around with an unencrypted laptop with a copy of the database on it (and the IT staff don't know about it) then that is a whole other issue.

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    creese's Avatar
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    I read it as accessing SIMS in school from home.

    If the database is on the laptop, it's a definite no no. It would soon be out of date anyway.

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    We have sims set up remotely via our LEA IT support,

    No laptops or computers that go out of school have it installed on and working, Some laptops like SLT have it on theirs but it will not work outside of school.

    Everyone that needs to access Sims outside of school does so remotely.

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    The only way staff can access SIMS externally here is via our RDS farm but in your situation how does the SIMS and FMS client connect to their databases externally?

    EDIT: Just seen all the previous posts, ignore my last!

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    We use remote access for our staff to access the full-blown SIMS, and they have access to SLG too, depending on what they want to do.

    We also have a laptop which is held securely off site (in a separate school, under a desk, in a locked case, bolted to the desk, plus the obvious password protection to boot and to log-in) which has a copy of our SIMS software and data (updated twice termly) as part of a (albeit limited) business continuity plan - i.e. if a plane crashes into our site then we don't lose everything and our MIS can be back up and running for a couple of key users in a short time frame...

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Many schools have a backup latop, how it connects varies. Some even have a process of restoring a backup to it regularly so it works offline.
    Understand the concerns as you'd want it to be encrypted, and locked down etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by creese View Post
    We have many schools using SIMS remotely. Providing the logins are secure there is no data protection problems. We use Google Authenticator.
    How are you using GA as part of the remote access?

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    creese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    How are you using GA as part of the remote access?
    That's not my department, sorry. It was set up, I tested, that's all I know.

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    To be honest its the first time ive come across this - no other school Ive worked in has had this as part of a disaster plan - aparently the person works often on the fms side at home - again it's the first time ive heard of this happening - it rang alarm bells with me.. I went to the head with this and its the first time it was known about.. Like me considered it a security risk..

    If its the norm - then I've got egg on my face and will gladly say sorry - we have an on & off site back up everynight taken and as said before was under the impression it was a big no no having sims installed on anything that was to leave the building.

    The only module I ever put onto a laptop has been timetable.

    Thanks for clearing it up - as the saying goes... who knew

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobra427col View Post
    If its the norm - then I've got egg on my face and will gladly say sorry - we have an on & off site back up everynight taken and as said before was under the impression it was a big no no having sims installed on anything that was to leave the building.
    Excuse me if I'm telling you something you already know, but having SIMS installed does not neccessarily mean the database can be accessed. The SIMS client is just that; a client. Installing it on a machine does not automatically create a copy of the school database, so unless the laptop is being connected to the school network via VPN or similar, it won't be able to access any live data outside of school anyway (unless of course the database is being copied to the laptop, it's unclear from your posts whether this is the case or not)

    As for it being the norm, personally I see no need to have offline access to the entire DB, but I do have a laptop which download all emergency contacts and medical details each night so that we at least have vital information available offline in the event of a disaster (at least as long as the battery lasts!).

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    creese's Avatar
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    Better safe than sorry.

    There are and will be more Apps coming on the market to access SIMS modules from anywhere. Within a couple of years SIMS8 will access via a browser.

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    Quote Originally Posted by creese View Post
    That's not my department, sorry. It was set up, I tested, that's all I know.
    I meant more about where it sits - is it tied in to SIMS, i doubt it. I'm guessing it's part of the auth process for teh remote desktop or vpn or something like that. Just wondering, cos i'd like to implement GA based authorising.

    Quote Originally Posted by creese View Post
    Better safe than sorry.

    There are and will be more Apps coming on the market to access SIMS modules from anywhere. Within a couple of years SIMS8 will access via a browser.
    I'm waiting for FMS8 that will be cool though by the time they get round to that it might be FMS X

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    creese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I meant more about where it sits - is it tied in to SIMS, i doubt it. I'm guessing it's part of the auth process for teh remote desktop or vpn or something like that. Just wondering, cos i'd like to implement GA based authorising.


    I'm waiting for FMS8 that will be cool though by the time they get round to that it might be FMS X
    I believe it is some kind of VPN, with a client on the laptop. Users can use SIMS in the school, go home, authenticate and use SIMS as if they are in school, they are then in effect on the LA network for browsing etc.

    I won't see SIMS8, let alone FSM8. One or two upgrades at most for me.



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