Nexus’ Earl Foote Talks School Cybercrime On Dave & Dujanovic

Earl Foote recently appeared on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast to talk about how cybercriminals are targeting schools, and what parents can do to keep their kids’ data safe.

Is Your Child’s Private Data Secure?

Key points:

  • No one is safe from cybercrime, including schools
  • Education institutions that fail to properly invest in cybersecurity are prime targets
  • Make sure your children’s private data is properly protected at school and at home

In light of the recent hack of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the latest episode of Dave & Dujanovic is all about understanding this type of cybercrime and how it affects victims, especially students at public schools.

Nexus CEO Earl Foote joined the hosts on this episode to give them a tech expert’s perspective:

Vice Society Released 500GB Of Students’ Data

The Los Angeles Unified School District was attacked over Labor Day weekend by a high-profile cybercrime group, Vice Society.

The district was infected with ransomware, and when they failed to pay the ransom in time, the data was made public online for use by other cyber criminals. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the education sector these days.

“This hacking group is ruthless, and I don’t think we’ll see them slowing down,” says Earl.

What Does This Mean For School Districts?

If you operate in the education sector, then you need to be aware of scams like this. The same type of strategy can work just as effectively against your students via their school email accounts, as well as your staff members.

After all, 500 schools were hit by ransomware in 2019 alone. A school in Flagstaff had to cancel classes early in their semester because they had to take their systems offline after being infected by ransomware.

Protection against ransomware and phishing comes down to a three-tiered approach:

Data Backup

If you have a data backup solution, then it doesn’t matter if your data has been encrypted. You can just replace it with your backup; simple as that.

That’s why you should make a considerable investment in a comprehensive backup data recovery solution so that you can restore your data at a moment’s notice when necessary.

Be sure to:

  • Back up data on a regular basis (at least daily).
  • Inspect your backups to verify that they maintain their integrity.
  • Secure your backups and keep them independent from the networks and computers they are backing up.

Patch Management

You can’t afford to ignore software update notifications—but depending on your workload, you may have to. That’s where an IT company can help.

Software updates are not only to improve the functionality of the software; they also serve as a patch for recently identified vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.

Your IT company can handle the management of these updates to make sure that not a single one is ever skipped or delayed.

User Awareness

Share these tips to make sure your school community knows how to spot a phishing attempt:

Watch For Overly Generic Content And Greetings

Cybercriminals will send a large batch of emails. Look for examples like “Dear valued customer.”

Examine The Entire From Email Address

The first part of the email address may be legitimate, but the last part might be off by a letter or may include a number in the usual domain.

Look For Urgency Or Demanding Actions

“You’ve won! Click here to redeem a prize,” or “We have your browser history pay now, or we are telling your boss.”

Carefully Check All Links

Mouse over the link and see if the link’s destination matches where the email implies you will be taken.

Notice Misspellings, Incorrect Grammar, & Odd Phrasing

This might be a deliberate attempt to try and bypass spam filters.

Don’t Click On Attachments Right Away

Viruses containing attachments might have an intriguing mess.

How To Protect Your Kids’ Private Data

Whether you have children, grandkids, or nieces and nephews, you’re in the best position to decide what is appropriate for children and talk to them about online safety.

Kids may know the technology better than you do, but you have the wisdom to show them how to make smart choices and to help them use it safely.

Watch For Red Flags

There are certain types of behavior children, and their supervisors should keep an eye out for:

  • Be suspicious of users that are overly flattering.
  • Don’t engage in overly personal conversations with strangers online.

Set Clear And Age-appropriate Rules For Internet Use

Make online safety a family effort, a mix of guidance and monitoring.

Negotiate clear guidelines for using the web and online games that fit your kid’s maturity and your family’s values. Discuss what sites are appropriate, what information can and can’t be shared, and the boundaries for communicating with others through gaming, IM, mobile phones, and on social sites.

For the younger ones, keep the gaming consoles and computers (especially those with webcams) in a central location at home and restrict access to websites with offensive content.

Teach kids to keep personal information private. Help all kids choose email addresses and account names that are not suggestive. Teach them how to create strong passwords and not to share them with anyone but you.

Teach kids safe and responsible computer use, and to be careful about accepting new friends and not to open attachments or click links with so-called “free offers.”

Keep Communication Open

Have regular discussions with kids about their online activities—who their friends are, the games they play, and the sites they visit. This is also a great way to stay involved in their lives and learn about their interests.

If there’s a problem, teach kids to trust their instincts. Ask them to come to you, and you’ll do what you can to help solve it. It’s important to make sure kids know that you won’t punish them or take away their privileges or devices if they come to you.

Use family safety software as appropriate and set specifically for each child to help minimize the safety risks. Using the security features of most systems, you should be able to:

  • Create separate accounts for each family member.
  • Specify which websites kids can visit and which programs they can use.
  • Get detailed activity reports to look for potentially inappropriate sites the child might be visiting.
  • Limit access to PC software games based on title, content, or rating.

Track Your Family’s Identities On The Dark Web

The dark web is the Internet’s underworld, where criminals sell and trade confidential data. Their activity is hidden from standard search engines and web browsers, so you can’t track whether they have your information.

However, there are many dark web monitoring services available today with which you can track whether your family’s data has been posted for sale online. These solutions are designed to detect compromised credentials that surface on the dark web in real time, offering your business a comprehensive level of data theft protection.

Teach Your Kids To Stay Vigilant

Above all else, make sure your children understand what cybercrime is and why they need to be careful about what they share online. The more everyone knows about the types of threats, the less effective they are.