Safe After Hours?
Schools are trying to improve security after school.
When a teacher stays after school to grade papers or plan lessons, she shouldn't have to worry about her safety. But potential security risks became real for one North Carolina district when a preschool teacher was locked in a closet and robbed after a late night in the classroom. Nora Carr, chief of staff for Guilford County Schools, told local news channel Fox 8 the district plans to beef up its after-school security. "I don't think the answer is that we shut down access to our campus," Carr said.
After a number of incidents, other districts around the country are taking a closer look at after-school security concerns. In Madison, Alabama, a task force highlighted after-school events as a security loophole following a fatal shooting at the Discovery Middle School. The district is now focusing on preventative measures. And in San Francisco, community members formed the Peace Campaign Committee when a fight broke out after hours at John O'Connell High School, followed by an off-campus shooting. The school had recently cut the hours of its security aides, and the committee plans to set up an alert system and press for more security.
Kenneth Trump of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based consulting firm, recommends that schools limit the number of doors accessible after hours, that after-school activities be confined to certain areas of the building, and that security arrangements be factored into all after-school events.
DIGITAL SECURITY ROUNDUP
Many Reuse Passwords
A new study from the United Kingdom's University of Cambridge found that 31 to 49 percent of Internet users employ the same password to access different websites. That rate is much higher than previous studies have indicated and means hackers who discover password credentials at one site have a higher chance of unveiling credentials at other sites. The study cross-referenced stolen login information for two sites, rootkit.com and gawker.com, and found that 31 percent of users had the same password at both sites, and 49 percent had just slight variations. The study's author, Joseph Bonneau, noted that more research is needed, as both of the sites he examined are considered "low-value" and people tend to be more protective of "high-value" sites such as those used for e-mail and financial information.
Facebook Poses Security Threat
The security firm WatchGuard warns that Facebook and other social media applications are becoming top security risks. "While Web 2.0 technologies provide many benefits, they also harbor many security vulnerabilities," the company said in releasing its annual list of riskiest applications. "The complexity of Web 2.0 applications can lead to imperfect code, which introduces social network sites to many Web application vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks." According to the security firm Sophos, cyber attacks via social networks doubled in 2010. WatchGuard recommends schools ensure their firewall security and protocols are up to date.
Mobile Malware on the Rise
A report from software maker McAfee found threats from malware on mobile devices increased 46 percent from 2009 to 2010. The report also warned that mobile malware is evolving. While previous threats were limited to fake texts and forced calls, smartphones' increased capabilities have made them a target for botnet-style attacks. According to the U.S. DOE, 49 percent of public schools provide administrators with smartphones, and 15 percent provide them to teachers.