Risks Associated with Remote Learning

With most kids studying online due to Covid-19, are families prepared to fight cybercrime?

San Antonio – Norma Riojas, a San Antonio mother of an elementary school girl, has noticed her daughter is learning to use technology at an accelerated rate. When asked about cyber concerns she commented “seeing her go through apps and just picking it up really quickly; I can see how it could be very dangerous where she could be a victim of any type of crime out there.”

With school districts and universities welcoming students back to online class, cybercriminals are expected to target those most vulnerable. Social media accounts, private work data, as well as personal and financial information are at stake.

Riojas stated, “most of the time, I mean unless they have something assigned to them like a tablet or their own phone, [kids are] mostly using the parents [devices] so all that information is pretty much vulnerable.”

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert in April regarding the increasing demand for work from home positions. Cyber threats to individuals and organizations were amplified during the transition to teleworking. Now that school is in session, the same can be expected for students.

Sharmeen Rehman, technology insurance consultant and CEO of Blackfire Cyber Insurance, believes students are vulnerable to cyber-attacks because parents aren’t familiar enough with the topic to have a conversation about it with their kids.

Rehman stated “I don’t think it was realized by individuals and very small and medium businesses, that this is something that they have to deal with, they thought that cyber security breaches and cyberattacks is a magical word that only happens to enterprises. “

Parents are aware of the potential threat, but some are not aware on how to prevent attacks. Riojas stated, “when you see the news you see that some people have the camera on, and they could hack on to it and be able to see the whole thing.”

In order to prevent cyber-attacks Rehman recommends:

  • Unplugging any removable webcams.
  • Closing laptops not in use.
  • Updating passwords frequently.
  • Having secure settings on your router.
  • Utilizing a VPN
  • Having a response plan in case of a cyber-attack.

Rehman emphasized how important it is to practice netiquette (online etiquette) at home. A lot of times, Rehman stated, malware can be obtained by clicking on an ad, downloading an app, or opening a malicious email. “You know how we do spring cleaning? We need to do technology cleaning. We need to just go through all of our data, we need to go through our files, we need to go through our apps on our phone, on our laptop, on our tablet, and just make sure that we’re only using what we need.”

Both parents and professionals believe students should be educated on netiquette. Riojas stated “[back] in our day [it] was like parents should teach their kids about money, right? And the checking [accounts,] how to balance an actual hard copy checkbook and your account. So now I feel like it’s also important for little ones to learn cyber security, including changing passwords.”

The danger families are facing due to the elevated exposure to cyber crime is imminent. Rehman stated, “the data breach, the ransomware, the phishing emails, they are not just terms for businesses, they’re terms for anyone who uses technology.”

As a community, action needs to take place to ensure online safety. Change starts with proper leadership on netiquette.

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