5 ways to nurture a cybersecurity interest in a healthy way

It’s something no teacher or administrator wants to think about, but what if one of your students is showing an interest in computer hacking? Teachers–sometimes more than parents–can tap into kids’ interests and skill sets. And with technology now a large part of how students are learning, it is just a matter of time until any educator runs into a student with an unexpected knowledge of how tech works or how to manipulate it.

How do you know if these students simply have a healthy curiosity or are interested in something darker? And how do you help an advanced student understand that they can use their skills for good by choosing a career as a cybersecurity professional rather than an underground hacker? Here’s how to handle such a nuanced situation.

1. Identify interest and skill…Read More

4 Fresh Approaches to Coding in The Classroom

Coding is one of the most crowded categories in edtech. And while there are a ton of great tools for students of any ability level, many of these tools have hit on the same formula. So whether you’re prepping for Hour of Code or looking to launch a coding unit or curriculum in your classroom, lab, or library, it’s tough to find the right solution or even determine what separates one from another. Thankfully, there are a few developers out there breaking the mold and doing something different.

These developers are not just iterating on the tried-and-true coding formula but exploring new frontiers that offer students new ways to learn—from VR and hardware hacking to on-the-go learning to courses and curriculum that blend technical skills with “soft” skills.

Hardware hacking: Pi-Top and Piper
Computer scientists and software engineers know it’s important for coders to have an understanding of how computers are made and how they work. Knowing a bit about the hardware side of things helps inform a programmer’s understanding of why code works the way it does. As someone who likes to build his own computers, I can also say it’s just flat-out fun to put together a PC and swap in and out components. It’s like the nerdier version of hot rodding.…Read More

Beware of ransomware: Here’s how to protect your district

A new, disturbing pattern has cropped back up that is reminiscent of some nasty behavior from the early days of Internet nefarious exploits: targeting schools and students and the innocent. Ransomware attacks have been making headlines in recent months—particularly as a threat to K-12. Both Roseburg (OR )Public Schools and Leominster (MA) Public Schools were two of the latest victims of cyber-abuse.

A history of hacking
21 years ago, I got a call at my first internet security startup company (Signal 9 Solutions, later acquired by McAfee) asking for help; a woman’s son had cognitive challenges and disabilities, and she thought he was the victim of hacking. She had seen a news piece about cyberhacking, and she thought this might be a case.

At the time, we focused on enterprise sales and cryptographic solutions, but we had accidentally invented the personal firewall for telecommuting, put a beta version of this new standalone personal firewall on our website, and started a forum talking about it.…Read More

4 Fresh Approaches to Coding in The Classroom

I’ll admit I’ve been feeling a bit burnt out on coding tools. Coding is one of the most crowded categories in edtech. And while there are a ton of great tools for students of any ability level, many of these tools have hit on the same winning formula.

So does that mean coding is over? Not quite yet. In fact, the coding genre of edtech seems to be evolving.

One of the bright spots at this year’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference has been how many developers are not just iterating on the tried-and-true coding formula but exploring new frontiers that offer students new ways to learn — from VR and hardware hacking to monthly subscription boxes to courses and curriculum that blend technical skills with “soft” skills.…Read More

Cyber security course for teachers includes lessons on hacking

Eric Bryant is glad his school recently bought laptops for all its students to use in class and at home.

He just wants to make sure those students are protected.

“Kids are going to learn computers one way or another,” said Bryant, a 10th-grade history teacher at Gadsden City High School. “Hopefully we can teach them the right way to use them.”…Read More

Students are ‘hacking’ their school-issued iPads: Good for them

Almost immediately after receiving their new school-issued iPads this fall, students in Indiana and in California (and probably elsewhere) managed to bypass the security on the devices, “hacking” them for “non-schoolwork” purposes: listening to music, checking Facebook, surfing the web, The Atlantic reports. The news made headlines last week, no surprise, considering the hundreds of millions of dollars that schools all over the country are spending on tablets—with the promise that ed-tech has made for decades now of better student achievement with more modern, more mobile teaching and learning opportunities. The Los Angeles School District alone, where some of this purported “hacking” occurred, has plans to spend $1 billion for an iPad rollout over the next two years that would eventually put a device in every student’s hands…

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Security chip that does encryption in PCs hacked

Deep inside millions of computers is a digital Fort Knox, a special chip with the locks to highly guarded secrets, including classified government reports and confidential business plans. Now a former U.S. Army computer-security specialist has devised a way to break those locks, the Associated Press reports.

The attack can force heavily secured computers to spill documents that likely were presumed to be safe. This discovery shows one way that spies and other richly financed attackers can acquire military and trade secrets, and comes as worries about state-sponsored computer espionage intensify, underscored by recent hacking attacks on Google Inc.

The new attack discovered by Christopher Tarnovsky is difficult to pull off, partly because it requires physical access to a computer. But laptops and smart phones get lost and stolen all the time. And the data that the most dangerous computer criminals would seek likely would be worth the expense of an elaborate espionage operation.…Read More

High-achieving high school rocked by hacking scandal

Students at a top public high school in Potomac, Md., hacked into the school’s computer system and changed class grades, and officials are investigating how widespread the damage might be, reports the Washington Post. The incident prompted an emergency staff meeting at Churchill High School and a recorded phone message to parents on Jan. 27. The extent of the apparent security breach was not immediately clear; teachers at the school were being asked to review their grades for discrepancies. The students involved used a computer program to capture passwords from at least one teacher, according to sources familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Teachers were told to check grades for anomalies and correct them before first semester report cards are released Feb. 3, according to the sources. But because teachers at the school no longer keep separate records for their grades, it might be difficult to go back and find a student’s original grade, the sources said. School officials urged Churchill teachers to change their passwords immediately and rotate them more often. The 2,100-student school has a 98-percent graduation rate, 11 points higher than Montgomery County as a whole. Its average SAT scores were 1820 out of a possible 2400 in the 2008-09 school year, the second highest in the county…

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