Network disruption spurs conversation about online safety

Placing more importance on cybersecurity, teachers and students at Souderton have realized the risks associated with publicizing personal information on the internet. Cybersecurity has started to emerge alongside the internet.

Given the recent network disruption in the Souderton Area School District, people are raising concerns about personal cyber safety in the current online climate.
According to Cyber Risk Analytics company RiskBased Security, over 4.1 billion person records were leaked in the first half of 2019.
In recent years, hacking has seen a monetary value and is incentivized beyond simply accessing private information. The new standard is hackers encrypting information to sell it back to the victim or sell the account on the dark web. Souderton school district had an incident with such ransomware in September 2019.
After an account has been breached, the first way to try to lock the hackers out is to change the password.
“If you have been hacked, the first thing you should do is reset your password,” said Vox Recode reporter Bonnie Cha. By starting with email, any further password resets won’t end up back in the hackers’ hands.
From there, resetting all affected accounts’ passwords should get the hackers out of the account. However, if this does not work, most platforms have a tech support team you can work with to regain access to your account.
According to self-taught coder and freshman Connor Bache, almost anyone with adequate equipment can design a basic virus.
“You can look it up in 20 seconds and figure out how to do that,” Bache said. Bache continues on to say that most personal account hacks are not a result of elaborate security breaches, but users who are tricked into downloading viruses and background code onto their computers or phones. Giving permission to popups like “enable content” or allowing a keylogger to run on your computer are very basic ways hackers can gain entrance to your computer or phone. From there, the hacker is able to use ransomware to encrypt files until the victim pays them off.
According to Bache in the beginning stages of a virus, the file is as easy to delete as it is to write.
“Step one is to find it and step two is to delete the file. It’s not magic,” Bache said.
Best Buy charges $149.99 for a virus wipe, but before handing out that type of cash, simply checking the device’s hard drive for unwanted downloads and code can save a lot of money.
As the subject of a random hacking attack, Souderton teacher Christine Jackson’s personal accounts were compromised. She worked with a variety of people including customer service from her phone carrier, Verizon, and credit card company, Capital One, as well as coworker Louis Yanni. She was able to recover her accounts. According to Yanni, the hack was a situation that could have happened to anyone.
The hackers used a tactic where they went to a cell service carrier network and convinced them that they owned Jackson’s phone number and had the line switched to a different sim card. From there they received all of her incoming phone calls and text messages, hacked into her email, and were able to access her PayPal and credit card accounts.
All the accounts that were compromised were connected to Verizon or Capital One. “All told, they charged up close to $10,000 worth of stuff,” Jackson said.
Jackon’s credit card company Capital One had zero fraud liability and as she was able to prove it was fraud, she was not wrongfully held accountable for the money. According to Jackson, the real loss was the time she lost recovering her identity.
“The hours and hours and hours that I had to spend to get my identity back, to get my phone back, to recover all the things that were lost I cannot even count. Like days of my life were gone,” Jackson said.
The time she lost to the situation made her realize that not being diligent with internet safety increases the risk of getting hacked.
“I also am very careful about what I click on, who I give my phone number out to, how much information about myself I have online all those types of things that make me less public, just to protect myself,” Jackson said.
Junior Rohan Mehta, the designer of The Arrowhead website, has an online safety philosophy that falls in line with Jackson’s.
“It’s mostly just not putting very personal information, especially to the sketchy websites,” Mehta said.
However, even with all of the hours Jackson lost to the hack, she has not cut herself off from the internet.
“I am not anti-technology, but I think just like anything else, it should be in moderation,” Jackson said.