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With the holidays fast approaching, a rise in phishing attacks is traditionally seen as well. Phishing attacks can be frustrating to deal with. The best defense is to not fall for them in the first place. Unfortunately, we are seeing phishing attacks because “better” (i.e. harder to detect) and more polished.
What Phishing Does
Phishing is an attempt to do one of two things
Tricking users into revealing their credentials.
Getting users to install malware.
Quite frankly, your credentials are very valuable. For many of our users, district credentials lead to student information, lots of valuable district information and more. Plus, many users “reuse” passwords. So, learning a user name and password on one site can lead to the ability to log into other sites.
Protecting Against Phishing
We employ several strategies to prevent phishing attempts from ever reaching our users. However, even the best of all of these combined will not be perfect. Occasionally, phishing attempts will land in your inbox.
Tips to Identify Phishing Attempts
Be suspicious of “odd” grammar and punctuation
Be suspicious of “odd” wording
You probably didn’t “win” a gift card (especially if you never entered a contest)
Be wise about contests
Be aware of “urgent” deadlines
Watch out for shortened URL’s
Look at where the link is actually taking you
Carefully review the actual URL of the site that you are on
Spear phishing is targeted at specific individuals. Unlike phishing (which usually blankets a wide variety of users), spear phishing aims to trick high profile targets into giving up their credentials.
Preventing Becoming a Victim
It is important to prevent becoming a victim.
Use the Tips to Identify above.
Turn on 2-Step or 2-Factor Authentication.
Use a Password Manager.
Be suspicious (especially when on a mobile device).
Instead of clicking on a link, enter the URL of a website that you want to visit (or use a known bookmark)
One of the things that we take very seriously is security. The safety and security of our users and data are important. This responsibility is not just for the Technology Department but is the responsibility of every user. Some times, people do what is expedient, instead of what is safe. One example that we had this year was a teacher signing into a computer and then letting a substitute use that computer. Unfortunately, the substitute made some poor decisions. (Just a reminder to NEVER share your credentials with someone else or sign into a computer and let someone else use it. This can lead to many uncomfortable situations. It’s also against federal law).
Because we take security seriously, we frequently have to ask questions and seek clarification about accounts and access. Recently, I had someone ask why I cared, and what were the possibilities of a compromise (frequently called a “hack”, but hacking is more specific than a compromise) of our data.
*Note that these are only the reported compromises.
Compromises occur due to a wide range of conditions that include, but are not limited to:
a misconfiguration on a server
an employee giving out their credentials
a contractor who copies information
malware installed by a user
ransomware installed by a user
email phishing that was successful
These compromises happen to all different sizes of districts and background. While the districts vary greatly in terms of size, socio-economic status, funding and more, the impact is similar for all.
…the impact of publicly-reported K-12 cyber incidents is significant. During 2018, such incidents resulted in the theft of millions of tax payer dollars, stolen identities, tax fraud, altered school records, website and social media defacement, and the loss of access to school technology and IT systems for weeks or longer.
Recently, several other governmental agencies have been successfully compromised. The cost of recovering from those compromises can be expensive in terms of actual dollars, time to recover and lost data.
Summertime and the living is easy, but the work is hard. Some people think that we have the summer off. Summer is actually a very busy time for us. For example, we have the following projects scheduled for summer:
– Update the district web site
– Update iLearn
– Update iBlog
– Update OTRS
– Update Student Sites
– Update DEC
– Update Pin It
– Develop and implement internal Documentation system
– Develop training on Grackle Docs
– Review/Update all Required Courses (ADA,Bloodborne Pathogens,OCR,RBB, Title IX) with generating departments/groups
– Update Non-Instructional Evaluation Process
– Implement e911 on the new phone system
– Update individual school web sites
– Update departmental web sites
– Update RBB reporting
– Update School Specific Google Accounts
– Develop/Implement Workflow Approval Process
We’re actually working on even more. We’ll have more information to follow. Have a great summer!
The web remains a fascinating place. It is exciting and ever-changing. Recently, due to security concerns, we had to make some changes to Chromebooks. Any Chromebooks that are used by students are now limited to the DPS network. That is, any and all student Chromebooks can only connect to the DPS wireless network. If those Chromebooks attempt to connect to any other network, the user will see a message that the administrator has disabled this network.
Staff Chromebooks are not limited to the DPS network. Staff Chromebooks will work on any network.