Yes, you read that right. When asked how easy they thought it would be for a student in grades 1-6 to hack a school, 15 percent of respondents said it was either somewhat easy (6 percent) or very easy (9 percent). The numbers rise with age. Some 57 percent think a high school student could easily hack a school, and 63 percent think an undergraduate would have no problem. These responses were part of a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Radware.
You might be surprised at who is behind the most recent cases of cyber-attacks on schools. Would you guess that in many cases, it’s the students themselves? Whether because they want to change their grades or attendance, because they feel it’s fun or they want to test the limits of how much they can get away with, it’s becoming a larger problem across the globe. Part of the issue is the ease in which kids can now access the Darknet, and the increasingly low costs to hire someone to hack the system for them.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently raised the issue of cyber security education during a Washington D.C. speech. The intention behind such a sentiment is a good one. Teaching cyber security to the public, and making it a part of the education curriculum is essentially a public safety lesson akin to ‘Don’t Do Drugs,’ ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’, and ‘Be Alert And Aware Of Your Surroundings.’
However, as a society we are at a crossroads where our children have vastly more knowledge of the cyber landscape than adults. Teachers still struggle with computer basics while students are hacking the schools’ computer systems to change their grades, create DDoS attacks on the day of critical testing, and worse.
Summertime is almost over, and back-to-school season is upon us. Beginning now, students all across the globe are beginning to register for their classes, purchase their school supplies, and start working on assignments for the upcoming year. But among these students, there are some who will get up to no good – hacking into the school systems to alter records, to disrupt the school’s normal operations, and to see just how much damage they can do. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why kids are hacking their schools:
School networks are increasingly becoming victims of cyber-attacks. They are presented with unique threats and challenges that most organizations do not have to deal with. Every year schools see thousands of new students that bring with them an arsenal of potentially vulnerable devices. To add to this growing complexity, most college campuses have migrated to digital platforms like Blackboard and Moodle. These online web portals are prime targets for denial of service attacks.
Schools are getting more sophisticated; there is no doubt about it. My kids recently had an "emergency study exercise" in grade-school where they needed to log in to the school system from home and participate in an online classroom, listen to a session and answer some questions. The idea was to see if the school was prepared for emergency situations, where the kids couldn’t attend school for some reason, but they could continue studying remotely. I thought that was pretty cool.
I also learned recently about a high school in our area where all the classroom activity is conducted online. The students have no books, no notebooks – only their laptop.