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Teachers Turn to Gaming for Online Privacy Lessons
By Dian Schaffhauser 10/10/18
Blind Protocol, an alternate reality game created by two high school English teachers to help students understand online privacy and data security. This form of gaming blends fact and fiction to immerse players in an interactive world that responds to their decisions and actions. In a recent article on KQED, Paul Darvasi and John Fallon described how they chose the gaming format to help their students gain a deeper look at how vulnerable their personal data is.
Darvasi, who blogs at “Ludic Learning,” and Fallon, who writes at “TheAlternativeClassroom,” are both immersed in the education gaming realm.
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Six Ways to Protect Student Data and Prevent Cyberattacks
School administrators and IT staff can be super-vigilant, but the hackers are getting better and better at sneaking through security.
the most common cybersecurity threats, and how can school staff avoid them?
Eavesdropping / Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) Attacks
What they are: It’s likely that you sometimes use a school laptop or mobile device to gain internet access via Wi-Fi networks in public places like coffee shops or airports. If so, be aware that there may be hackers eavesdropping to try and gain entry to any two-party exchange you make so they can filter and steal data.
How to avoid them: Always use a school-verified SIM card, dongle or VPN(virtual private network) to access the internet in public places.
Social Engineering Attacks
According to Verizon’s 2018 Breach Investigations report, 92 percent of malware is delivered via email, often referred to as social engineering attacks. The aim is to interact with the user and influence and manipulate their actions to gain access to systems and install harmful software. Malware uses various guises. Here are some of the most common:
1. Phishing emails
2. Baiting attacks
3. Quid pro quo requests
4. Pretexting attacks
5. Contact with a ‘compromised’ website
Armored school doors, bulletproof whiteboards and secret snipers
Billions are being spent to protect children from school shootings. Does any of it work?
Nov. 13, 2018
Although school security has grown into a $2.7 billion market — an estimate that does not account for the billions more spent on armed campus police officers — little research has been done on which safety measures do and do not protect students from gun violence. Earlier this fall, The Washington Post sent surveys to every school in its database that had endured a shooting of some kind since the 2012 killings of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., which prompted a surge of security spending by districts across the country.
In 2016, Utah’s Union Middle School had a surveillance system, external doors that could be accessed only with IDs and an armed policewoman, known as a resource officer, when a 14-year-old boy shot another student twice in the head during a confrontation outside the building just after classes ended.
“Even if we would have had metal detectors, it would not have mattered,” wrote Jeffrey P. Haney, district spokesman. “If we would have had armed guards at the entrance of the school, it would not have mattered. If we would have required students to have see-through backpacks and bags, it would not have mattered.”
The survey responses are consistent with a federally funded 2016 study by Johns Hopkins University that concluded there was “limited and conflicting evidence in the literature on the short- and long-term effectiveness of school safety technology.”
Much of what can be done to prevent harm is beyond any school’s control because, in a country with more guns — nearly 400 million — than people, children are at risk of being shot no matter where they are. A 2016 study in the American Journal of Medicine found that, among high-income nations, 91 percent of children younger than 15 who were killed by gunfire lived in the United States.
The solution, Goudreau concluded, was to embed former Special Operations agents, posing as teachers, inside schools. He argued that the benefits over resource officers were obvious.
What Happens to Student Data Privacy When Chinese Firms Acquire U.S. Edtech Companies?
Between the creation of a social rating system and street cameras with facial recognition capabilities, technology reports coming out of China have raised serious concerns for privacy advocates. These concerns are only heightened as Chinese investors turn their attention to the United States education technology space acquiring companies with millions of public school users.
A particularly notable deal this year centers on Edmodo, a cross between a social networking platform and a learning management system for schools that boasts having upwards of 90 million users. Net Dragon, a Chinese gaming company that is building a significant education division, bought Edmodo for a combination of cash and equity valued at $137.5 million earlier this month.
Edmodo began shifting to an advertising model last year, after years of struggling to generate revenue. This has left critics wondering why the Chinese firm chose to acquire Edmodo at such a price, some have gone as far as to call the move a data grab.
as data becomes a tool that governments such as Russia and China could use to influence voting systems or induce citizens into espionage, more legislators are turning their attention to the acquisitions of early-stage technology startups.
NetDragon officials, however, say they have no interest in these types of activities. Their main goal in acquiring United States edtech companies lies in building profitability, says Pep So, NetDragon’s Director of Corporate Development.
In 2015, the firm acquired the education technology platform, Promethean, a company that creates interactive displays for schools. NetDragon executives say that the Edmodo acquisition rounds out their education product portfolio—meaning the company will have tools for supporting multiple aspects of learning including; preparation, instructional delivery, homework, assignment grading, communication with parents students and teachers and a content marketplace.
NetDragon’s monetization plan for Edmodo focuses on building out content that gets sold via its platform. Similar to tools like TeachersPayTeachers, So hopes to see users putting up content on the platform’s marketplace, some free and others for a fee (including some virtual reality content), so that the community can buy, sell and review available educational tools.
As far as data privacy is concerned, So notes that NetDragon is still learning what it can and cannot do. He noted that the company will comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal regulation created in order to protect the privacy of children online, but says that the rules and regulations surrounding the law are confusing for all actors involved.
Historically, Chinese companies have faced trust and branding issues when moving into the United States market, and the reverse is also true for U.S. companies seeking to expand overseas. Companies have also struggled to learn the rules, regulations and operational procedures in place in other countries.
more on data privacy in this IMS blog:
FBI Warns Educators and Parents About Edtech’s Cybersecurity Risks
The FBI has released a public service announcement warning educators and parents that edtech can create cybersecurity risks for students.
In April 2017, security researchers found a flaw in Schoolzilla’s data configuration settings. And in May 2017, a hacker reportedly stole 77 million user accounts from Edmodo.
Amelia Vance, the director of the Education Privacy Project at the Future of Privacy Forum, writes in an email to EdSurge that the FBI likely wanted to make sure that as the new school year starts, parents and schools are aware of potential security risks. And while she thinks it’s “great” that the FBI is bringing more attention to this issue, she wishes the public service announcement had also addressed another crucial challenge.
“Schools across the country lack funding to provide and maintain adequate security,” she writes. “Now that the FBI has focused attention on these concerns, policymakers must step up and fund impactful security programs.”
According to Vance, a better approach might involve encouraging parents to have conversations with their children’s’ school about how it keeps student data safe.
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What is a Data Lake? A Super-Simple Explanation For Anyone
September 6, 2018 Bernard Marr
James Dixon, the CTO of Pentaho is credited with naming the concept of a data lake. He uses the following analogy:
“If you think of a datamart as a store of bottled water – cleansed and packaged and structured for easy consumption – the data lake is a large body of water in a more natural state. The contents of the data lake stream in from a source to fill the lake, and various users of the lake can come to examine, dive in, or take samples.”
A data lake holds data in an unstructured way and there is no hierarchy or organization among the individual pieces of data. It holds data in its rawest form—it’s not processed or analyzed. Additionally, a data lakes accepts and retains all data from all data sources, supports all data types and schemas (the way the data is stored in a database) are applied only when the data is ready to be used.
What is a data warehouse?
A data warehouse stores data in an organized manner with everything archived and ordered in a defined way. When a data warehouse is developed, a significant amount of effort occurs during the initial stages to analyze data sources and understand business processes.
Data lakes retain all data—structured, semi-structured and unstructured/raw data. It’s possible that some of the data in a data lake will never be used. Data lakes keep all data as well. A data warehouse only includes data that is processed (structured) and only the data that is necessary to use for reporting or to answer specific business questions.
Since a data lake lacks structure, it’s relatively easy to make changes to models and queries.
Data scientists are typically the ones who access the data in data lakes because they have the skill-set to do deep analysis.
Since data warehouses are more mature than data lakes, the security for data warehouses is also more mature.
more on big data in this IMS blog
How Data Privacy Lessons in Alternative Reality Games Can Help Kids In Real Life
Ubiquitous social media platforms—including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—have created a venue for people to share and connect with others. We use these services by clicking “I Agree” on Terms of Service screens, trading off some of our private and personal data for seemingly free services. While these services say data collection helps create a better user experience, that data is also potentially exploitable.
The news about how third parties obtain and use Facebook users’ data to wage political campaigns and the mounting evidence of election interference have shined a spotlight on just how secure our data is when we share online. Educating youth about data security can fall under the larger umbrella of digital citizenship, such as social media uses and misuses and learning how not to embarrass or endanger oneself while using the internet.
Darvasi’s students in Toronto can pool together 55 faux bitcoins to purchase and launch the BOTTING protocol against an opponent. The student targeted at Fallon’s school in Connecticut would then have 48 hours to record audio of 10 words of Darvasi’s students choosing and send it back to them through an intermediary (Darvasi or Fallon). For a higher price of 65 faux bitcoins, students can launch MORPHLING, which would give the opponent 48 hours to record a one-minute video explaining three ways to stay safe while using Facebook, while making their school mascot (or a close approximation of) appear in the video in some way during the entire minute.
more on digital citizenship in this IMS blog
The top 5 cybersecurity threats for schools
BY EARL D. LAING November 29th, 2017
1. Link Security
From ransomware to phishing and other types of security breaches, direct contact is the number one way that you can create a vulnerability in your system. Those who commit these online crimes are finding smarter and sneakier ways to infiltrate your data every day. Sometimes the attack can even come as an email from a legitimate sender, or appear to be a perfectly normal message on social media. The goal is usually to get you to click on a link.
Solution: Make sure the security preferences for your email account(s) are set up to filter spamming, phishing and executable files that aren’t recognized.
2. Unknown Devices
Solution: Your IT system should include a solution that tracks all devices, including those not owned by your school, that enter the network.
3. Out of Date Technology
Contrary to popular misconception, user interaction isn’t always required for a cyber attack to be launched. The WannaCry attack targeted hundreds of computers all with the same security vulnerability on their Windows operating systems.
Solution: Again, an IT solution that tracks all devices is important, but one that can also check on software upgrades and block access to certain apps is ideal.
4. User Error
A data breach in Florida is just one example of the chaos user error can provoke. This issue didn’t begin with hackers at all. It began with carelessness that caused sensitive information to become public.
User error occurs regularly, and a common root of this is failing to restrict access to files or certain sites that may be compromised.
Solution: Restrict user access to sensitive documents only to those who absolutely need them, and make sure that your site architecture is set up to require a secure login for access. You may also want to create a white list of safe sites and applications and block the rest.
5. No Backup
As disheartening as it sounds, even when you take all the necessary precautions to protect your vital information, data breaches can still occur. When an attack happens, it’s often a major blow to productivity to try and get all the information back into a secure place. Worse, vital work can be lost for good.
Solution: Install a backup system on each school device that sends data to a remote server throughout the day (not just at night) to help make sure nothing is lost.
more on cybersecurrity in this IMS blog
Kaspersky Lab Has Been Working With Russian Intelligence
Emails show the security-software maker developed products for the FSB and accompanied agents on raids. July 11, 2017, 4:00 AM CDT
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All wifi networks’ are vulnerable to hacking, security expert discovers
WPA2 protocol used by vast majority of wifi connections has been broken by Belgian researchers, highlighting potential for internet traffic to be exposed
Mathy Vanhoef, a security expert at Belgian university KU Leuven, discovered the weakness in the wireless security protocol WPA2, and published details of the flaw on Monday morning.
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (Cert) issued a warning on Sunday in response to the vulnerability.
“The impact of exploiting these vulnerabilities includes decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection and others,” the alert says, detailing a number of potential attacks. It adds that, since the vulnerability is in the protocol itself, rather than any specific device or software, “most or all correct implementations of the standard will be affected”.
more on cybersecurity in this IMS blog