Cyber attacks on school networks have more than doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Data from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) shows there was a 107 per cent increase in reports from the police cyber prevent network of students deploying DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks from 2019 to 2020.
To tackle this and help educate and protect students, Schools Broadband has partnered with the NCA to launch a new safeguarding initiative.
Users of Schools Broadband’s internet filtering service for schools will now be directed to a unique block page when searching for terms related to cyber crime. The special block page will inform school children of the dangers of cyber crime, and direct them to the NCA’s Cyber Choices website, where they can learn to put their cyber skills to better use.
Trials of the service with select schools have proven positive. Schools Broadband has already successfully prevented a potential attack by alerting a school that one of their users was repeatedly searching for terms such as “How to DDoS school”.
Search terms related to DDoS attacks make up the majority of what triggers the block page, with children often searching for how to disrupt their favourite online games. It’s likely that many school children would consider this simply cheating at a game – against the rules but not serious. Which is why it’s important to educate children that these activities are criminal acts and can result in serious consequences.
Following the successful trial, the service will now be going live to over 2,000 schools across the UK as a standard feature in Schools Broadband’s internet filtering service.
David Tindall, CEO Schools Broadband, said:
“By working in partnership with the National Crime Agency, we are helping to make the online world a more secure place. We’re building not just safety into our web filtering, but education too, helping combat potential criminal activity proactively instead of tackling it afterwards.
“If we can educate children and inform them that these activities are dangerous and can result in criminal prosecution, we can potentially prevent a future cyber criminal.
“This is our contribution, to prevent a ripple effect of online criminality, that has the potential to be felt beyond the individual and go nationally, and even globally.”
John Denley, Deputy Director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said:
“Education is a key pillar in preventing crime and these messages highlight the risks and consequences of committing cyber offences, which can result in a criminal record for life.
“Law enforcement plays a critical role in tackling cybercrime and keeping the country safe. School outreach is important to educate a younger audience and this initiative will continue to help divert young people away from criminality.
“This is a great example of the private sector helping us deliver the Cyber Choices message.”
Damian Hinds, Security Minister, said:
“Tackling cybercrime is at the heart of the Government’s new National Cyber Strategy.
“We need to equip this generation with the best digital skills and to assist them in making the right choices online.
“It’s great to see cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector in delivering important initiatives like this one to prevent students from getting involved in cybercrime”.