Education the most cyber-attacked industry – report

Education the most cyber-attacked industry – report

It’s time for Australian teachers to be trained in protecting schools from cyberthreats that pose a major risk to the personal data of students and staff, says an education technologist.

According to the NTT Security 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report, the education sector is the most cyber-attacked industry in Australia – a wake-up call that many schools are not heeding.

Education Technologist, Sharlene Barnes, said that there has been a drastic change in the required school security over the past 20 years, and with funding tight, it’s hard to be adequately resourced.

“20 years ago, we were simply learning about how to get the internet onto a school computer,” Barnes said.

“Today we are in a digital age, and times have certainly changed, there are very few educators that have the necessary cyber-security training, and this is hard to achieve without the correct funding or resources provided to schools.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 79% of Australian children aged between 5-14 use the internet, and over 85% accessing it from school. This vastly increases the threat on cyber-security in schools.

Professor Gernot Heiser, a cybersecurity expert from the University of NSW, said that schools are just as vulnerable – if not more so – than companies.

“Schools don’t tend to have professional IT staff with a deep understanding of security issues, although a number of schools doubtlessly have teachers who understand IT and the associated security issues,” Heiser said.

Sharlene Barnes has recently created a phone app that assists schools in daily activities, such as permission slips, instant alerts and absent days – with the app requiring no personal information to be stored by the school or parent.

“The App, Skool Loop, was made with privacy of both the parent and school as a primary focus,” Barnes said. 

“When you download the app, it recognises the IP address so no personal data needs to be input or shared. It also means that if a parent changes phone, the schools can still communicate, but privacy is never compromised.”