While protecting student’s online safety is a must, so is protecting school computers from malicious students.
Students hacking school databases to change grades, stealing computer passwords, infecting computers with key-stroke logging malware, accessing secure sections of school sites, posting pornography or hate content on school sites, or hijacking a school’s website – to name a few of administrator’s dilemmas.
And it is a reality schools across the country struggle with. Just recently, 2 cases of hacking by students have highlighted news. In one case, students hacked into school system to change grades and in the other, students paid hackers to delete their absenteeism records from the system.
“Students are very, very tech-savvy.” Martinez & Harper 2008.Staying ahead of would-be hackers is not a one-fix solution; it’s an ongoing process that periodically assesses new and existing threats and updates security practices.
Following measures can be taken to prevent hacking at school;
1. Ensure school computers have up-to-date security software installed, and that it automatically updates. Be sure firewalls are set, and enforce the use of strong passwords.
2. Set the ground rules that outline what is (and isn’t) acceptable use of school computers, and make sure students and their parents are aware of both the rules and the consequences for hacking, harassment security breaches, or failing to adhere to the schools acceptable use policy. Talk about these standards periodically, not just during the first week of school.
3. Leverage content filtering technologies that help prevent students from seeking out inappropriate online content.
4. Use two networks – one for students, another for teachers and staff. This makes it harder for students to hack into sensitive information.
5. Teach internet safety and digital responsibility to help students develop a strong online ethic.
Martinez S. and Harper D, 2008, Working with Tech-Savvy Kids