The news is full of stories about hackers stealing sensitive consumer data such as birthdates and Social Security numbers. Unfortunately, educational data are not immune to such attacks. Cybercriminals are just as likely to target schools as they are to go after a credit tracking agency or a department store. And student data is some of the most sensitive information.
But with awareness and common sense, we all can keep ourselves and our students safer. Here are some cardinal rules for protecting yourself from cyberattacks, specifically “phishing.”
More and more phishing attacks are coming cleverly and convincingly disguised as professional, legitimate requests from organizations or people the recipient knows. But no matter how safe an email or a website might initially appear, ALWAYS look and think twice before clicking or responding. If something doesn’t sound right or feel right on first or second thought, don’t give in to the urgency the messenger might be trying to create. A request for sensitive information can wait long enough for you to confirm the request in person. Print and keep the following guidelines close by as a reminder to slow down and think before you click.
- NEVER give student or family information in an email or over the phone.
- BEWARE of web forms requesting personal or confidential information, even if the website looks legitimate. Phishing websites are often replicas of bona fide sites.
- NEVER open emails or attachments in your spam folder or emails whose sender you do not know. Even if you do know the sender, BEWARE of a request that you didn’t expect or normally wouldn’t get in an email.
- BEWARE of emails or other messages that appear to come from a government agency—like the IRS. Hackers phish by causing fear and quick compliance.
- NEVER click on or enter personal or confidential information in a form on a pop-up screen.
VARtek can reinforce your barriers to hackers. If you’re considering putting out an RFP for outside technology support, call us: 800.954.2524. We will help you keep your school cybersafe.