In recent months, cyberattacks have been on the rise within the education industry, especially within schools. Only recently, CCTV was leaked on to the dark web through a disturbing website called ‘Watch live surveillance cameras in the UK’.
CCTV footage leaked included children in the playground, classrooms, and even the bathroom. 20% of schools have been targeted already, and in coming months the figures are expected to rise.
Hackers are targeting schools, as they are deemed to be ill-equipped to deal with cyberattacks, therefore an easy target. Phishing emails seem to be the preferred method for attacks amongst schools. Hackers can mimic email addresses, so that school staff and admin innocently click on the email links, thinking it's one of their colleagues which then infects the system. Usually without anybody realising it’s happened.
Schools and other educational establishments hold crucial information about pupils that attend. This includes medical records such as medical conditions and doctors’ names, home addresses, identification of pupils (such as pictures/passport information), National Insurance numbers and student email addresses. Private schools are at even bigger risk, as parents credit card/tax details are logged onto each pupils account within the system.
If hackers are able to obtain this information, they are able to sell it on the dark web for potentially hundreds of pounds.
How do schools protect themselves against cyberattacks?
Even though cyber attacks are on the rise, there are steps you can follow to prevent future attacks from happening.
Staff training is key to educate about cybersecurity and computer health. With systems constantly updating leaving many people out of touch with latest technology, it's key to ensure all staff understand how to monitor systems, and therefore reduce risk of future attacks. Make sure everybody who has accounts on the system, whether that be staff member or pupils, change their password every 6 months.
Encryption conceals data, which ultimately means that it can't be easily read because its been turned into code. Encrypting all of your data, even the data you don't deem to be essential, will make the hackers life even harder.
Have monthly meetings with both staff, and pupils to educate them about online safety. As culture changes, and we rely more on computers, then its key to educate all ages about the do’s and dont’s and how to prevent attacks from taking place.
If you suspect you may have been breached, it's key that you and your team act fast to minimise the effect of the attack.
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