Taking Steps to Becoming Cyber Smart
'Educators have a responsibility to prepare young people for life, including being street smart and cyber smart', was one of the core messages we shared at the 2016 ISBA ICT Conference. Figures have shown that this has never been more pertinent with a fraud incident occuring in the UK every 15 seconds in the first six months of 2016. The spate of ransomware attacks targeting schools reported at the start of 2017 further emphasise the need for improvement in security awareness.
Fraudsters Targeting Schools with Ransomware
Fraudsters have been cold calling UK education establishments resulting in ransomware attacks. There have been several instances on fraudsters posing as being from the Department of Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, or telecoms providers. The head teacher, financial administrator receive emails with attachments purporting to be anything from exam guidance forms to mental health assessments. On opening the attachments, ransomware is activated encrypting files and systems which attackers hold to ransom. The recent spate of ransomware attacks have seen an average pay off of around £8000 each, with schools either having to pay the ransom or rebuilding systems and hoping that they can restore anything important using backups.
Education is key
Aside from expert security management, continuous-assessment security awareness programmes and education on identifying and evading cyber threats are key in combating the rising tide of ransomware and cyber fraud. This shouldn't be limited to the classroom but should extend to staff, teachers and parents. Cyber threats are now a part of our lives and are only growing more sophisticated and pervasive - so taking steps to learn how to be cyber smart, in the same way people are trained to be street smart, is an invaluable for modern life.