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12 Apr 2018

Primary school children become key target for hackers

Alongside the vast increase in the use of technology over the years, has come a lack of awareness of the dangers around social media and online gaming, especially with young children. With the rapid progression of technology in schools, it’s no wonder that young people have been the prime suspects for hackers.

The amount of time children spend online, as well as the number of apps available is always increasing, and vulnerable internet users are attracting the attention of hackers because they are perceived as being an easy target - as published here. Having spoken to children from the ages of 8 to 11 at a local primary school, Smoothwall found that around 1 in 3 pupils admitted to being hacked through their social media or online gaming accounts in the past - a staggering amount. Even those who hadn’t been hacked knew somebody who had experienced an online attack. According to the National Crime Agency, the most common form of cybercrime is phishing.

When it comes to targeting children, hackers often rely on their vulnerability to fall for such scams in the hope they will divulge in their own information, and in some instances, even their parent's card details. With phishing scams often presenting themselves in the form of pop-up ads promising various kinds of rewards, it's no wonder that children are more susceptible to these types of incidents. It's with this in mind that the importance for children, parents and teachers to know how to spot phishing scams is increased.

The risk doesn't stop there...

Recent research has found that a fifth of educational establishments have been hit by cyber-attacks. Schools hold a lot of sensitive data, and sometimes poorly secured systems, so hackers are identifying these institutions as being an easy target where there are lots of users who could be potentially vulnerable to being hacked.

Recent data from CIFAS, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service has shown that criminals are increasingly targeting UK youth for identity fraud by hacking their social media accounts. This highlights the importance for young people be encouraged to stay safe online from a young age. As hacking amongst young people becomes increasingly frequent, it’s vital that teachers, parents and pupils are fully aware of the dangers around hacking. Smoothwall have made it their mission to provide Online Safety Workshops in schools around the UK to make vulnerable users aware of the potential risks around social media, stranger danger and online gaming.

As well as visiting schools, Smoothwall have been holding Masterclasses as part of the SAFE initiative to provide expert advice and best industry practice on keeping children safe online in education. Cyber Security advisor Stephanie from the Regional Police Cyber Crime Unit was a key speaker at the event and explained that there had been a major increase in the number of hacking incidents amongst young people. She also highlighted that “cybercrime (was) hugely under reported”, so many cybercrime incidents that occur aren’t even accounted for.  

Claire Daniels, Online Safety Ambassador comments: “When it comes to keeping children safe online, there needs to be a collaborative effort between all those who have a responsibility to care for children; from the government, educational institutions, teachers, parents and social media platform providers. As a technology industry, we need to come together to ensure that we are playing our part in keeping the online world safe for children.”

For more information about our Masterclasses or Online Safety Workshops, read about our SAFE initiative here.

Further Reading
The Phishing Phenomenon
16 Aug 2018

The Phishing Phenomenon

By Christopher Smith Read More
Smoothwall's Women in Tech Series: Adele Bannister
06 Aug 2018

Smoothwall's Women in Tech Series: Adele Bannister

By Daniela Lackhoff Read More
Keep your child safe online over the summer holidays
25 Jul 2018

Keep your child safe online over the summer holidays

By Lauren Atkinson Read More