Banks, government bodies, insurance and pharmaceutical companies are the type of organisations who traditionally deploy best of breed, top IT security products to diminish the chances of breaches in security. So, its a welcome change when you hear of young people being put to the top of the pile when it comes to being offered the best in IT security. CareZone, a website which aims to improve the lives of children in care, has tackled the importance of security and developed a website which offers children in care the opportunity to communicate online with those in a similar situation, social workers, doctors and other care professionals in a very secure, online environment.
CareZone has been set up by The Who Cares? Trust, a charity dedicated to delivering services to children in care. They employed award wining design agency, Lightmaker, to build a site that would offer these children an exclusive zone in which to communicate with other children in care as well as other professionals. Lightmaker have an extensive amount of experience in producing highly innovative websites, and their work on the CareZone project employed the use of in-house technology, TMT 2005, which allows concurrent users on a website to share real-time, interactive experiences. The site delivers exciting information in an imaginative and innovative way with site features including pages of advice, the opportunity to offer feedback, online support from counsellors and doctors and a secure place to communicate with care-workers and other professionals, from whichever care home the child happens to be.
Within the site there is an engaging 3D chatroom where the kids can talk about problems such as bullying, being parted from siblings or the problems associated with frequently being moved from care home to care home. For children who are parted from their siblings it also provides a safe communication network where they know their emails wont be read by anyone else. Games, noticeboards and help with homework are just some of the other areas which are included on the site.
One of the key successes of the site has been the digital vault provided by Cyber-Ark, which gives the children a safe haven in which to store information. Children use the Vault to write their diaries, providing a safe place to record their thoughts and feelings. A sure winner, compared to the traditional physical diary, which most kids dont trust due to the risk of their diary being found and read by their peers or care staff.
The Digital Vault is normally used by banks or large institutions to store administrative passwords, however the CareZone site employs this technology as a digital safe for the children to store their birth certificates, photographs, education records, or personal education plans. All information they know they cant delete or have to share with others.
Whilst using the site, the kids have really got to grips with the digital safe, so much so, that it is now being used by the local authorities as a means of getting legal paperwork done, questionnaires and personal educational plans completed. Local authorities can email notification to the children that they have posted a document or information in their own, personal and private safe. The children then read the document, take any necessary action and return it into the safe. According to the local authorities this has saved time and money as paperwork can be sent out centrally and completed very quickly and securely.
In order for the CareZone site to be a success, The Who Cares? Trust, together with Lightmaker had to ensure that the childrens anonymity was protected at all times and that they would be assured of a high level of security, protection and privacy whilst using the site. Initially 9 local authorities subscribed to the site when it was first launched and this has quickly grown to 35 local authorities with 1,200 children online.
It has become so popular that Lightmaker together with The Who Cares? Trust has approached Canadian and Dutch local authorities to develop the site for their children in care.
As with all sensitive electronic data or information that has to be used remotely, there needed to be a secure method of access and a means of protecting and managing identities of all users adult or child - at the initial point of logging on. Lightmaker and The Who Cares Trust worked with Diagonal Security, a leading provider of integrated, information security solutions, to find a user authentication solution that suited their requirements.
The chosen technology from RSA Security, RSA SecurID, means that the access method to the site mirrors that of a top bank or financial institution. All 1,200 children have an RSA token, and use this, together with a user name and pin number, to access the site. Lightmaker and The Who Cares? Trust chose the two factor authentication from RSA because of the ease of use, reliability and high levels of security.
Tokens can be posted from a central point, which has proved to be convenient, inexpensive and quick. The straightforward administration behind the allocation of the tokens, together with ongoing technical support provided by Diagonal Security, has strengthened The Who Cares Trust efforts to promote the programme to the local authorities. The local authorities have welcomed the RSA tokens as they can be reassigned very quickly if people lose them or no longer require them.
Security for the site doesnt stop at entry point, once the children are in, they must answer further questions in order to email, access the messageboard and chatrooms as well as all other features of CareZone. The security is even more secure around the Vault, as once again, to access the very safe haven the children must enter another password to get into their own, personal Vault.
Bryan Sayle, a director at Lightmaker, who has been involved at every stage of the CareZone development, says Although it seems that we have created a site like a Fort Knox, with really strong access and encryption, to the users it is very simple and easy to use. At no point have we had any complaints from the children saying how difficult it is to access the site. They all naturally respect the security, look after their tokens and get on with it. Its their world and we want them to feel confident and safe with it.
Jan Roszkowski Director Carezone says The site has been a great success with the children and the professionals in the care industry. There are 60,000 children currently in care in the UK and 480,000 adults supporting these children and so there is a real demand for a site specifically targeted at this group. We hope in time that many more children in care in the UK will have access to the site.
Everyone involved are looking forward to the future of CareZone and the opportunities it offers children in care. This development is leading the way in internet security and providing children in care with a much needed environment in which to communicate, learn and store information online.