OPINION: An “extra layer” of protection for student email?

Verbum Dei High School students recently received an email from an unknown user on Microsoft Outlook. The email claimed to have compromising information on students’ private activities and demanded payment. This email hack is not the first of this year.  Fearing that their confidential information might be jeopardized, students have been asking for more internet security recently.

Earlier this year, student emails were hacked.  Hackers sent out emails that looked legitimate, but the messages contained links to download malware. Students were opening these emails without knowing that the emails were not actually sent by an actual student.

Students that were hacked didn’t even know they were hacked.

“I didn’t know I got hacked,” said senior Shawn Lorera.  “I tried to get in, but it wouldn’t let me.”

“I was so confused,” said senor Joshua Aguilar, another victim.  “I tried to get into my email, but it said that my password was wrong.  I knew that I couldn’t forget my password.”

It’s freighting that one’s system can be so easily infected with malware, and the user wouldn’t even know that his or her system was infected.

Students are frequently using their school email  – whether it may be communicating with teachers or getting updates from colleges and universities. Thus, it is essential to have the best filtering security for the students’ school email accounts.

“I feel that having more protection from cyber attacks is important because everyone on campus utilizes their email,” said Aguilar.

Although attacks are not becoming more aggressive, they have, however, “gotten more clever over time,” said John Galloway, IT Services Director. Faculty and staff have an extra layer of filtration, and they are not as susceptible to spam email that may include malware.

Recent email threats and attacks begs the question: Why do teacher and staff accounts have an additional layer of protective filtration while the student accounts do not?

The answer is … cost.

“I haven’t received a precise quote yet, but I estimate it to be around $45 monthly for a second domain,” stated Galloway.

It may or may not be expensive, but it sure is important that the extra security is there for the students. It is a necessary expense because it is better to be prepared than to wait until a big attack occurs, and then, reactively, add the extra security.

While student accounts may well get that extra security, students should not be solely reliant upon that security.

“They won’t capture everything, nor should users expect that level of success,” added Galloway.

Technology can always be manipulated, and technology does make errors. If students rely on that as protection, then they are bound to be disappointed.

Student users should be responsible and they should approach all emails with caution – both legitimate email and fake email. Keeping different passwords for email accounts and websites is an additional way of adding protection to one’s own internet use as well.

Internet security comes in many forms other than filtration of content on an email cloud, but adding another layer of protection is always important and critical in our technological age.

As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.

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