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Wednesday, 07 August 2019 14:06

Internet-connected schools ‘vulnerable’ to hackers Featured

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Internet-connected schools ‘vulnerable’ to hackers Image Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The advent of Internet-connected school classrooms has given rise to new dangerous online threats, despite the fact that they have transformed the learning process in schools all over Australia, according to a new report.

According to the report from VPN service provider NordVPN, much like other public Wi-Fi networks, school Wi-Fi might be vulnerable to hackers.

Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. says there are a few recorded cases of hackers and other shady internet personas getting into a school’s Wi-Fi network – and in such a case, hackers may be able to access student devices and get hold of their photos, documents, and other sensitive data, and may also get in contact with the students.

“The truth is that public Wi-Fi networks are usually so unsecure that even a seven-year-old kid with an interest in tech can hack them,” says Markuson.

“School Wi-Fi networks are no exception. Loads of online tutorials provide tips on how to do that.”

NordVPN cites the fact that last year, the addresses and phone numbers of Melbourne’s Blackburn High School students were stolen through an unsecure Wi-Fi network, with the data later used in attempted scams.

And NordVPN says a different case was recorded in another school, where a hacker used a phishing link to make students log into a site on the dark web - and another cybercriminal managed to hack into a school’s Wi-Fi and start a conversation with a Year 6 student on his personal iPad.

In a further example, NordVPN sites the case in 2015, where a 7-year-old girl from the United Kingdom showed “how easy it is” to break into a public Wi-Fi network. It took her less than 11 minutes to infiltrate the hotspot by setting up a rogue access point – “which Hackers frequently use this technique to activate a ‘man in the middle’ attack and begin eavesdropping on the traffic”.

NordVPN says there are approximately 9,500 schools in Australia, and almost all of them have Wi-Fi networks, and the problem for schools is that the authorities usually have very few ways of knowing if and who is hacking them - “that’s unless the cyber criminals are caught using student data or other information".

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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