Schools are hacking targets?

Seth J. Gibson

Hackers will not look like this, but they are scary nonetheless.
Hackers will not look like this, but they are scary nonetheless.

To most, hacking is using a computer to achieve impossible feats like winning a game against an evil computer, like in WarGames, or creating a hot girl from a Barbie doll like in Weird Science. However, hacking is a danger to any student using the internet. Hacking is a method of gaining personal or undisclosed information. In this day and age, anything from high-maintenance servers to smartphones are susceptible to hackers. So what does hacking have to do with high school? Simply put, hackers are after information; they either want to steal it, change it, or destroy it. High schools and their students are large sources of information, making them big targets for cyber attacks.

  As plenty of students and staff know, students need to be registered into the school system for teachers to log in attendance, grades, and school credits. In order to be registered into the system, schools require personal information, like a personal address, date of birth, or a cell phone number. With the addition of the Chromebook system this year, more and more personal data can be accessed, since a number of students at West Ottawa undoubtedly use social media or other sources of information on the Chromebooks. Just by being a student in high school, data is being stored that hackers are able to access.

  Being hacked is a nightmare, and anyone that has experience with being hacked can say the same. For Youtube content creator “Boogie2988”, this nightmare became reality when a hacker accessed his channel, emails, and PayPal account. The hacked decided to destroy the work Boogie had spent years on by changing the passwords of all of his accounts, and deleting his YouTube videos and some of his emails. The main goal the hacker had was to exploit Boogie’s fame, sending fans links to dangerous websites in order to get even more personal information. What happened to Boogie2988 is very real and can happen to anybody, especially the students at West Ottawa.

  Thankfully, schools are completely aware of this threat. Junior Dillon Palmer, a member of TSI and a student at West Ottawa, helps repair students’ Chromebooks. “There’s no doubt (the schools) are large hacking targets,” Palmer said. “It’s really the question of ‘can the school protect themselves?’ and in my opinion, yeah, they can.” The school servers are constantly under surveillance and high security. The Chromebooks are managed and protected with the Smoothwall program installed on every device. Any and all hacks on the school would be detected and shut down as fast as possible, thanks to the cyber security team.

  However, protecting personal information is not all the security’s job; this is also the student’s job. Students using separate complicated passwords on each account they use will make the job harder for hackers. Keeping account information discrete and unspoken is a no-brainer for keeping accounts safe. Lastly, not trusting downloads or links to unsafe websites are essential to preventing potential hacks.

  Schools are undoubtedly prime hacking targets, but it is a collaborative effort to keep schools safe from this threat. All students need to do in order to be safe on the internet is to trust the school, trust the cyber security, and as Palmer said, “make sure you use the internet wisely. Use common sense.”