State of Education


As more kids learn from home, here's how to keep them cyber secure

Cyber attacks are rising against school systems
Posted at 9:04 PM, Aug 19, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — For most kids today, their school routine is as easy as sitting down at the table, popping open their computer and hopping onto Zoom. But now that they’re spending hours a day on a computer, what are some things you as parents and them as students should know in order to stay safe online?

“Unfortunately attackers and hackers don’t have a standard sense of ethics and morals,” said Randy Watkins, Chief Technology Officer of Texas-based cyber security company Critical Start.

Watkins knows hackers all too well. His company has seen no shortage of business since the world migrated online.

“We’ve been extremely busy,” He said. “These large catastrophes that present them opportunities to deceive their victims, they absolutely take advantage of it.”

Increasingly, school systems and students have been those victims.

“We had a documented case in Texas where it was actually a student that caused a denial of service on his own school,” Watkins said.

So what should schools, parents and students do to minimize the risk of being targeted?

“A school-owned computer is actually the best-case scenario because they’re likely going to deploy tools that help them lock down the system,” he said.

If you have to use your own computer though, make sure it has anti virus software and keep all your applications updated.

“We also recommend parents really talk about a culture of security, where the student is cognizant of what they’re clicking on,” Watkins said. “Whether it’s opening up email attachments or clicking on links to non-reputable sites.”

Parents should also stay on the lookout. Students aren’t the only target.

“Email is the most common delivery mechanism of malware,” Watkins said. “So if I can send you an email that has an attachment that says this is your student’s report card, you’re more likely to click on that, and it’s not difficult to spoof those emails.”

News5 reached out to some of southern Colorado’s biggest school districts Wednesday. Only District 49 got back.

“We are actively working to keep the e-learning environment secure,” D49 spokesperson David Nancarrow said.

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