Cyber expert warns of “denial of service attacks” on schools and student privacy concerns

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)—With virtual learning comes the risk of disruptions by online intruders and cyberattacks on schools’ external networks that can grind learning to a halt. These attacks, that have delayed remote learning at schools around the country, are known as “denial of service attacks.” 

“It’s me sending a thousand people into the same doorway and eventually nobody can get through that doorway because it’s just so crowded, effectively that’s exactly what happening to these schools,” explained Quentin Rhoads-Herrera with Critical Start.

In the rush to get kids learning online, Rhoads-Herrera says school districts are lagging in securing their cloud environments, leaving them exposed to hackers. “Denial of service attacks” provides no real gain for hackers other than notoriety. But other cyberattacks could expose a student’s data privacy. He believes email attacks, or phishing, will become more prevalent.

“It should be, from the attacker’s standpoint, pretty easy to fake a school’s email to pretend as if they are communicating from the school to student or vice versa and then encrypting data and holding it for hostage,” said Rhoads-Herrera.

He says a huge part of cybersecurity is education, and kids need to be aware of attempts to trick them into sharing sensitive information like their date of birth, home address, and social security number. So be sure to remind your kids that if they get an email from someone claiming to be the school asking for private information or sharing a link, double-check, before clicking or providing that information.

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