CAPE CORAL, Fla. — CyberSecure IT Solutions, a company based in Naples says cyber-criminals are always adapting and changing their targets, which unfortunately includes schools in SWFL.
A study released by K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center marked 2020 as a “record-breaking” year for cyber attacks against public schools in the U.S.
In the report, they say there were 408 publicized school cyber attacks in 2020, representing an 18% increase over 2019.
In recent years, schools have continued to see technology be integrated into the classroom, especially during the pandemic when students were moved to distance learning.
This is why CyberSecure IT Solutions, CEO Christian Wartchow told Fox 4 it’s important that school districts have a plan in place for keeping these online risks at bay.
“The students need to be trained to watch out for bad emails if they are getting emails from the district, they have a district email address, clicking on bad links, recognizing a phishing email when it is one,” said Wartchow.
Wartchow says in Southwest Florida, more than 90% of the problems they see, come from phishing emails that try and trick the recipient into giving personal information
Wartchow says students could also see a similar attack on their social media accounts, like Facebook.
He says one training method CyberSecure IT Solutions has used, is by sending a fake email to students that appear to be spam or untrustworthy.
“We send out fake spam, phishing messages and those essentially are a test individual in the organization and that information then is shared with the management and leadership of that organization so they can rate people and if they fail, then they have to go back to additional training,” said Wartchow.
Wartchow told Fox 4 that the threat is not just coming through emails.
He says especially for students, many of them can be contacted by cyber-criminals through their social media or untrustworthy apps they download.
Wartchow says this is why schools should be encouraged to use a zero-trust program, which only allows certain apps and programs to be downloaded.
“We have implemented a zero-trust environment where any type of new application or new file that comes into the environment has to meet certain standards and it cant have an algorithm or a hash or a designation that is not recognized by the zero trust platform,” said Wartchow.
So what this means for students, is the program would not allow them to download un-approved apps and other programs.
Wartchow says sketchy apps are a common problem they see with students, and they have seen a lot of success even from businesses that use the zero trust program.
CyberSecure IT Solutions recommends that school districts reach out to computer service companies, telling Fox 4 that many schools do not have an IT department with the resources to handle certain cyber attacks.