Untrained staff, students remains K-12's biggest cybersecurity threat

educationdive | April 01, 2019

When it comes to cybersecurity, Raytown Quality Schools Director of Institutional Technology Melissa Tebbenkamp tells Education Week that staff and students inadvertently sharing information or clicking on links is what puts districts at the greatest of risk of an attack.Teachers, faculty and students should be coached on how to avoid unintentionally clicking malicious links or files in phishing emails or sharing information about students or staff, including addresses, social security numbers or school records. An unexpected uptick in viewer traffic could also indicate hackers are staking out a district.Hackers are particularly interested in school records because they can sell for $250 to $350 on the black market. In addition, hackers might also use the district’s system in "resource-utilization" attacks on a third party to throw off their trail. When it comes to cybersecurity, schools are soft targets — they store a lot of personal identifiable data, but their security often falls short. In other words, many schools are the equivalent of unguarded banks just waiting to be robbed. The data stored at schools can be sold for thousands of dollars, and chances are hackers will be able to find a window left unlocked somewhere in the system.

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