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Unsecured WiFi leaving schools vulnerable to attack

Experts are warning schools and the public about the potential threat of internet-connected classrooms, saying they ay be vulnerable to hackers. 

While the internet has transformed the learning process in schools, it’s also given rise to new dangerous online threats, according to NordVPN, who says that much like other public Wi-Fi networks, school Wi-Fi might be vulnerable to attacks.

“There are a few recorded cases of hackers and other shady internet personas getting into a schools Wi-Fi network,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN.

“In such a case, hackers may be able to access student devices and get hold of their photos, documents, and other sensitive data. They may also get in contact with the students,” he says. 

“The truth is that public Wi-Fi networks are usually so unsecure that even a seven-year-old kid with an interest in tech can hack them,” Markuson says.

“School Wi-Fi networks are no exception. Loads of online tutorials provide tips on how to do that.”

In Australia, the addresses and phone numbers of Melbourne’s Blackburn High School students were stolen last year through an unsecure Wi-Fi network. This data was later used in attempted scams. 

A different case was recorded in another school, where a hacker used a phishing link to make students log into a site on the dark web. Another cybercriminal managed to hack into a schools Wi-Fi and start a conversation with a Year 6 student on his personal iPad.

Another example, in 2015, a 7-year-old girl from the United Kingdom showed how easy it is to break into a public Wi-Fi network. It took her less than 11 minutes to infiltrate the hotspot by setting up a rogue access point. 

Hackers frequently use this technique to activate a man in the middle attack and begin eavesdropping on the traffic, Markuson says.

“The problem is that the authorities usually have very few ways of knowing if and who is hacking them,” he says. “Thats unless the cyber criminals are caught using student data or other information.

“It might be a good idea to bring up the question of Wi-Fi security at school,” suggests Markuson. 

“Another step is getting a virtual private network (VPN) for your kid. A VPN, like NordVPN, is an encrypted tunnel between the Wi-Fi network and a child’s device,” he explains. 

“Most importantly, you should talk to kids and help them understand online security threats and the importance of digital privacy."