Two Weeks to Take Global Action Against Malware

The National Crime Agency is urging members of the public to take action which will help fight the effects of two specific cyber threats.

In a globally co-ordinated awareness campaign, crime fighting forces in the UK, along with the FBI and collaborators in a number of other countries are encouraging members of the public to take steps which will not only help protect themselves from risk, but also cause significant disruption to the effectiveness of the network which supports the malware around the World.

According to the National Crime Agency, GOZeuS and CryptoLocker are two systems estimated to be responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds globally. While the two systems are distinct in the way they operate, they both take advantage of security holes on a user's computer.

Put as simply as possible, GOZeuS operates by sending emails to ‘victims’, seemingly from a familiar contact (so they look genuine), but which contain links to the malware. Once the link has been clicked, the malware is downloaded and then operates in the background, waiting for the opportunity to collect banking or personal information. This information is fed back to the criminals using a network of infected machines.

If GOZeuS considers the information it finds not to be financially rewarding, CryptoLocker in activated. This system encrypts the files on the machine and then offers to unlock them in return for payment – in essence a ransom for the release of the files.

The more members of the public that are able to take steps to protect their computers, the more chance there is of the network of infected computers (or BotNet) being disrupted and this in turn will help to reduce the effectiveness of both malware systems.

There are some simple steps that can be taken to help protect your computer – which also apply to general e-safety. These include:

  • Making sure your anti-virus/anti-malware is up to date

  • Changing your passwords

  • Keeping your operating system current with updates and security patches
  • Further information is available from CERT-UK. There are also helpful tips on the Get Safe Online website

    If you would like to discuss Malware with your students, it is covered in the lesson plans and assembly plans available to E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members.

    Written by E-safety Support on June 03, 2014 13:49

    E-safety education and the role of the parent

    In the last few weeks we have had news about internet filtering to block adult content, celebrities falling victim to ‘sexting’ and yet more stories about students and teachers suffering from cyber bullying via social media platforms. Add to that the plethora of new sites appearing that encourage participation from young people, and you can begin to see the enormity of the e-safety risks children face.

    As teachers, there is a responsibility to safeguard pupils inside and outside the classroom which can be achieved with lessons and assemblies on e-safety, as well as enabling students to help the school develop and deliver the e-safety policy. But should it stop there?

    The Guardian recently reported that research by Plymouth University showed that while parents appear to be confident about how safe their children are online, they are avoiding the difficult conversations about ‘sexting’, cyber bullying and so on. "There is a disconnect between how safe parents think they can keep their children online and their actual ability to do that," claimed Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility at Plymouth University.

    It’s easy to understand why parents may find this a difficult topic, not least because of the new language and internet slang which has developed with the increase in online participation. But there is also the issue of privacy – in research carried out by mobileinsurance.co.uk, 60 % of parents of children as young a 6 do not check mobile phone use for fear of invading their privacy. It goes without saying that parents need to help in the campaign to make sure children are safe in any environment and that includes online. First, however, it seems that we may need to educate them too.

    If you would like to share your thoughts or tips on involving parents in e-safety education, please use the comments section below. Alternatively visit the E-safety Support Parents Pack for more information.

    Written by E-safety Support on July 30, 2013 09:53

    Is censorship of adult content the best way to educate children?

    With the news this week that the Government is to impose ‘family-friendly’ restrictions on internet services, there are many welcoming the change. Any measures that can be implemented to help protect our children can only be a good thing.

    But is, ‘family-friendly’ filtering there to stop the potentially corrupt and dangerous or is it there to stop the innocent? Children will be prevented from accessing adult content while the adults will have the ability to turn the filter off and view anything from the good to the bad and the frankly disturbing.

    If we are worried that viewing adult material at a young age will have detrimental affects on today’s youth, do we take the option of tackling the situation head on or is a prohibitive approach the better option? Do we help them to learn what is right and what is wrong (as we would with many other topics such as healthy eating, social awareness and so on) or do we hide things away? Is filtering a sensible approach or is it just avoiding the issue and hoping we don't need to confront it.

    I’m sure many of us were told as children that we were not allowed to do something and, of course, we did it anyway. Curiosity has a lot to answer for, so perhaps we should to let them explore, knowing what they might find and being prepared to discuss it. However, you wouldn’t let a child play with matches, we know that is dangerous… the debate is endless.

    There are a good many pros and cons to the filtering solution, but as long as safeguarding is at the root of the decision rather than censorship, then there has to be some merits. However we mustn’t become complacent. This is not the only risk on the internet – so we can’t assume that our children will be safe once the legislation is in place.

    If you have reactions to this topic or related ideas, share them in the comments section below.

    Written by E-safety Support on July 25, 2013 10:06


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