Son wrote an article for his school newspaper.
I had his permission to post it, so here it is.
On the 23rd March 2021, the National Cyber Security Centre published an article that highlighted that hackers have been targeting educational institutions.
They would gain access to the schools and universities and lock down the data, and then demand payment to unlock the data.
Now, when you think about hackers looking for a target, you think about Banks, government offices, and big online platforms.
However, when you think about it, educational centres are just as valuable. Why?
They hold tons of interconnected information which helps the hackers gain valuable information. Let us examine my school as a target. We are considering the worst-case scenario but work with me here.
· Pupil information which may contain date of birth, addresses
· Teachers personal information such as bank details, name, addresses
· Each person has an Ipad which is connected to the main server. Apple has the ‘Find my Ipad’. I’m guessing here, but again, worst case scenario, they could write a program that finds all of the iPads. They now have a good map of where the Ipads are.
Like real life burglars, cyber criminals are looking for the easy target, but the IT staff at my school are always working to make sure that everyone’s information and systems are safe. This is why we have updates to our Ipads, why we use Ipads (they tend to be locked down more compared to Androids), we have strong passwords and, this is why we have certain applications locked down or denied to us. It is all about being safe.
So what can we do to have the same level of awareness. As we get more integrated with technology, it is important that we remain safe.
Here are some tips to improve your cyber security knowledge.
· Don’t install pirated Software – Pirated Software is a very big risk, you have no idea what the programmer has coded, they may have put in bad code into that Fornite auto aim software. I mean how else are you going to get that 360 no scope achievement.
· Passwords – You’ve heard this a million times, but there are several no-no’s when it comes to passwords
o Admin, password, password123 – Bad
o Personal Information – Pet names, mother's/father’s name, favourite sport – Bad
o Just numbers – 12345678
o Lowercase letters / uppercase letters – joker, batman – Bad
Why, computers are fast and they can be given a dictionary and they can run through the common words in seconds. What is better is known as a passphrase mixed with special characters, so a password such as:
Sw0rdJ3llyDr4gr0n! is a good password. It is not a good idea to limit the password as that is another rule that the computer can use to figure out the password.
· Smart Devices (aka Internet of Things) – Always make sure that you change the password to not be the default that it is shipped with. Some manufacturers are not as educated in security and it has been known for hackers to gain access to your internal network by using your smart light or fridge as an entry point – So change that default password.
· Routers – Why leave your front door open and invite everyone inside? Like the Smart Devices, change the default password from admin/admin to a stronger username and password.
· USB Stick – Never ever plug in a random USB stick that you are given into your personal or school computer. Only use a stick from a trusted source.
· Don’t click on random popups when you visit a site, that ask you to install software that you are not expecting.
· The last tip I can give is to make sure that any site that you go to is secure. You can tell because in the search bar is either a padlock or the website starts with https (the s is for secure) rather than http.
There are some good sites that specialise in helping you understand and even help you understand how “hacking” works. In most cases, it’s teaching you the details of how computers, networks and programs work because to really break something, you have to know it well.
Here are some websites
· TryHackMe – https://tryhackme.com/
· National Cyber Security Centre - https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/
· BBC Btye Size - https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/znnny4j/revision/1
· PBS Cyber Security - https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/labs/lab/cyber/
In closing, there are many aspects to Cyber Security and if people like this article, I can look into what jobs you can get within the industry. It would also be cool to have an after school club, but who knows.