Schools 'need gender-specific software'

An Australian IT security firm says that boys' desire to hack into networks means that schools need software designed specifically to stop them

GFI Asia Pacific is calling on Australian market researchers to investigate "gender-specific" software.

The managing director of IT security company GFI, Richard Rundle, believes "the significant differences between the way boys and girls use and think about computers means that we should be producing 'gender-specific' software."

Rundle says his company has learned a lot about how boys and girls interact with their anti-spam, antivirus and internal hacking security software installations in Australian schools.

Several GFI customers have discovered that boys try to hack into their school computer network far more often than girls, which means protection from "insider hacking" is of prime importance.

"Girls' schools however don't seem to have the problem. Girls, apparently, are just not interested and I would like to know why," Rundle said.

The Catholic Marist College in Canberra just spent thousands of dollars on a new computer network including a full suite of security software designed to protect the school's 1,400 students from viruses, Trojans, spam and external hackers.

However, the school's director of Learning Technology, Ian Hewitt, admitted his biggest security problem by far comes from the fact that hundreds of his bright, intelligent young boys continually try to hack the system from the inside.

"Password protection is a much bigger deal for us than for most organisations. We have about 800 boys all trying very hard to crack the system. Boys present a different IT security problem to girls. Boys try all the time to break into the backend as a challenge -- girls are just not interested, " Hewitt said.

A security breach last year pushed the school to rethink the entire security set-up and hire GFI.