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Hackers Increasingly Target Schools, Here’s How To Keep Your Kids Safe According To An Expert

April 2024 by Oliver, the CEO of CyberNut

Did you know that educational establishments are often an easy touch for hackers? One report recorded 44% more cyberattacks on schools in 2022 than in the previous year, and that number has only climbed in 2023 and 2024. Not only can these cyber crimes lead to monetary losses for school districts, but they also put students at risk.
Oliver from CyberNut gives actionable tips on how to protect your child from cyber attacks at school.

Why Are The Hackers Targeting Schools?
Compared to many businesses, schools often have smaller security budgets and fewer security personnel. They often use old, outdated computer hardware and software that no longer receives security updates. Their IT teams are also often understaffed, and there is usually a lack of cybersecurity training within educational establishments.

What Are The Risks?
School databases contain pupils’ sensitive information. This includes their:
• Names and addresses
• Birthdays
• Email addresses
• Phone numbers
• Student grades and assessments
For college-aged students, this could also include:
• Credit card information
• Social security numbers
• Student loan details
According to Oliver, ‘Ransomware attacks involve people hacking into these databases and holding the information hostage. They threaten to keep it unless a ransom is paid. If your child’s personal and financial details are stolen, they become vulnerable to financial loss and identity theft.’

How To Protect Your Child
Speak To Their School

Encourage your kid’s school to use a firewall and network-protecting technology such as an NDR (Network Detection and Response) system. Also, make sure they’re regularly installing software updates and security patches.
Oliver says, ‘Ensure that antivirus and malware software is installed on both the school’s and your child’s devices (e.g. computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones).’

Speak To Your Child
Your kid’s school should be raising cybersecurity awareness among staff and students. However, it’s also your job to stay up to date on the latest threats and to tell your child about them. Teach them to use long and complicated passwords, and help them set up multi-factor authentication.

Employ a credit-monitoring agency to oversee your child’s financial activities. They’ll alert you to anything strange and protect them from possible fraud and theft.
Oliver says, ‘There’s no magic formula to totally erase the risks, but these actions can maximize your child’s protection. Then they can enjoy their education, and get the most from modern technology.’

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