According to a New Report You Have a 50/50 Chance of Recovering your Data if You Pay a Ransom


According to a report released by Cyber Edge Group, when you have been affected by Ransomware, the chances of you recovering your data by paying a ransom is about the same as a coin flip. 

Steve Piper, CEO of Cyber Edge Group states in 2017, “55% of their respondent’s organizations were victimized by Ransomware.  Of those victims that refused to pay the ransom (61%), the vast majority (87%) recovered their data from backups.”  For those who did pay the ransom however, they weren’t so lucky.  Half of those organizations never got their data back, and the other half recognized complete data loss.

The best way to make sure you avoid even being in this type of situation is to simply take precautions to fight against the effects of Ransomware from the start.  Terry Ray, Chief Technology Officer for Imperva states that “The best way to prevent an attack is to immediately detect ransomware file access behaviors before the ransomware spreads across the network and encrypts file servers. Once detected, you can quarantine impacted users, devices and systems”.

For even more ways to stay safe from the threat of Ransomware, click here.

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New Tool by Adobe Makes Technology More Accessible for Students


Computer Software Giant Adobe recently reported that 74 percent of educators say that jobs that will require someone to use creative thinking are less likely to be replaced by automation in the future.  But with the majority of these educators surveyed saying that today’s curriculum doesn’t spend enough time focusing on problem-solving skills, how can we prepare students to be ready to take on such job in the future?

Adobe’s research on this issue led them to offer “Spark Premium”, a storytelling tool that can help school and universities create visual aids for their students for free, in efforts to boost creative thinking and problem-solving skills.  Adobe also ensured that all of their creative cloud services abide by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule so that students under the age of 13 can access the tools.

With some of the issues educators are facing such as limited time, limited training and outdated testing, Adobe hopes “Spark”, and research they have collected, may inspire changes from policymakers and tech leaders.

Tacy Trowbridge, Global Lead for Adobe’s Education Programs says “Educators, policymakers and industry — technology in particular — need to come together to improve opportunities for students. Creative technologies can help educators teach and nurture critically important soft skills, and policies and curricula need to evolve to complete the equation."

Story via EdTech Magazine

Cyber crime is Costing Businesses Big Time – and a New DIY Approach Could Make Things Worse


In “Economic Impact of Cybercrime – No Slowing Down”, A report published in February 2018 by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it informs that cybercrime is costing businesses across the globe as much as $600 billion. 

"The digital world has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, including risk and crime, so that crime is more efficient, less risky, more profitable and has never been easier to execute," says Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer for computer security at McAfee.

Although data in a previous report suggested that Ransomware may be on a downward trend, this new report suggests that Ransomware is still the fastest-growing tool for digital crime.  With over 6,000 illegal marketplaces selling Ransomware online, the security risk may only become more popular as contractors can now outsource their Ransomware attacks to willing criminals.

The study also suggests that the service of cyber criminals contracting hackers or programs has become more refined as clients can choose anything from custom malware attacks to botnet rentals.  And with the popularity of cryptocurrency rising, it is a lot easier for criminals to make money.

So how can we fight this trend of DIY Ransomware?  The report suggests that creating standard practices to learn and fight against the problems would allow businesses, schools, hospitals and any of those who are affected by these brutal cyber crimes to better protect themselves

You can read the report here.

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Is the Threat of Ransomware Diminishing?


2017 was a pretty big year for Ransomware. Attacks like Petya and WannaCry made pretty big headlines as they attacked hospitals, banks, schools and many more different types of organizations.  However, according to a report from Malwarebytes, the rate of Ransomware infections dropped dramatically in the second half of 2017. 

After July, hackers seems to launch Ransomware attacks less frequently, meaning institutions like banks and hospitals received a pardon from potentially devastating consequences. 

So it seems, hackers abandoned Ransomware attacks in the second half of 2017 – but why?  According to Malwarebytes, it was simply because users were backing up their files.

Chris Boyd, a malware analyst at Malwarebytes theorizes that because the Ransomware attacks were heavily publicized, users were educated of the ways to avoid falling victim to a Ransomware attack.

Boyd told ZDNet, a CNET sister site, "This alone, even without additional security precautions, effectively deadens the otherwise considerable sting of the threat".

It’ll be interesting to see how the threat of Ransomware extends into 2018.  As long as everyone stays smart about protecting their data, 2018 can be a successful year in defending against the threat of Ransomware.

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Makerspaces are the Future of School Libraries


When you envision a school library, you think stacks of books and old wooden tables. Traditional school libraries were underutilized and were losing popularity as a hub for a school’s students or teachers.

Today, you’ll hear a different story. Students are now excited to visit libraries, doing so during their lunch or even before or after school.  Teachers are excited to bring their classes to the school library to work on class projects and in general, circulation in libraries is on the rise.

So what happened? School libraries transformed into makerspaces.

In Laura Fleming’s first year as school librarian, she transformed her school’s library from a traditional library space, into a modern, fun makerspace.  She removed some old bookshelves, and created better seating arrangements.  Laura also allowed students to eat and drink in the library so that students could take advantage of the area during their lunch period. Over time, Laura made more improvements. High-top workspaces were added and an old table was transformed into a LEGO plate that allowed students time to use their creative juices to make something fun.  “Makerspaces are about creating a maker culture,” Fleming said. “It’s a mindset. It’s a toolbox at your disposal for reaching kids. That can be done in any space and on any budget.”  The school library is now a great space where students have the room and resources to complete their class projects and work on assignments creatively.

Interestingly, Fleming noticed that her more frequent guests to the new makerspace are the students who are the most uninterested in traditional curriculum techniques. Now instead of a quiet, restricted area – this new idea of a makerspace engages these students and gives them an outlet to be creative and learn.

With the rising popularity of makerspaces, schools around the country are realizing the school library can be at the heart of a broader digital transformation.

“It connects librarians to the strategic work of schools,” says Mark Ray, Director of Innovation and Library Services in the Vancouver Public School District in Washington. “It’s an opportunity for superintendents and IT leaders and librarians to be talking about the same thing and not working against each other.”

Ray is also a Future Ready Librarians lead with the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Alliance’s framework lays out 10 characteristics of Future Ready Librarians:

  • Design collaborative spaces
  • Build instructional partnerships
  • Empower students as creators
  • Curate digital resources and tools
  • Facilitate professional learning
  • Ensure equitable digital access
  • Invest strategically in digital resources
  • Cultivate community partnerships
  • Advocate for student privacy
  • Lead beyond the library

The focus of these 10 characteristics vary based on the needs of the students, as the main focus is to empower students as creators and it’s an area of education that is grabbing the attention of school librarians across the country.

(Story via Education Dive)

Digital Citizenship Classes are Rising in Popularity


Ask a student to Google themselves.  It’s a simple task that may not seem like a big deal.  But the truth is that it can be.  It gets kids to realize what a simple Google search can reveal about you. It can get students to understand that they have to be as responsible online as they should be in real life. 

Rachel Murat, a New York High School teacher did exactly that. Asking her students to Google themselves is an opportunity to teach her students about Digital Citizenship and how important it is to behave correctly online.

Rachel explains that Digital Citizenship is about “using the reach of technology, especially social media, to improve the lives of others”.  Murat continues… “I harp on them about not making a permanent post about a temporary emotion.”

As concerns with issues such as Cyber bullying are arguably at an all-time high, Digital Citizenship is an increasingly sought after subject in American schools.  Research shows that kids struggle with values, ethics and decision-making online.  To help kids understand the importance of being responsible online,  Digital Citizenship course-loads involve lessons in online reputation, cyber bullying, privacy and safety.

Even as early as just five years ago, curricula centered on digital citizenship were few and far between.  Now, there are many different sources to help educators institute digital citizenship into their plans.  In Murat’s case, she adopted curriculum from online learning-management system “Schoology” – but there are others available from providers such as Common Sense Media or Social Assurity too.

The demand for a curriculum centered on digital citizenship has increased dramatically. For example, Schoology launched in 2009, and in less than a decade they have grown to 20 million users in over 60,000 schools across the country.

Parents are beginning to see the benefits that Digital Citizenship classes have on their children, too. One parent of a student who completed Murat’s class said that their child “has become much more conscious of the need to keep her [online] activity respectful.”

In today’s tech and online-driven world, ignoring digital citizenship would be doing a disservice to children who should have this as a fundamental element of their K-12 experience.

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STEAM Will Rise in 2018


STEAM is the educational initiative to include the Arts into the K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) framework, and in 2018 could present a huge rise in the amount of institutions who invite the arts into their curriculum.

Ricky Ye, the CEO of DFRobot states “Whether students have an affinity for the arts or not, incorporating elements of creativity into STEM education has indeniable benefits, including making STEM more approachable and understandable”.

Schools are already more accepting of a STEAM-related curriculum, and by combining traditional art courses and concepts with the growth of areas like 3D Printing, it only gives students an opportunity to invite fun and creativity into their workload.  By including art into your curriculum, you’re inviting students to use a different set of skills to come up with imaginative solutions and creative problem solving.

In today’s ever-evolving and always changing world, using out-of-the-box creativity to problem-solve and learn can be a huge advantage for students hoping to make unique and impactful splash into the workforce.

(Story via eSchoolNews)


5 Ways for Schools To Safeguard Against Ransomware


Between 2016 and 2017, 60% of schools that were affected by Ransomware paid a ransom to retrieve their data from hackers.  Here are 5 ways you can help safeguard your school from Ransomware threats:

1.) Make a Plan and Spread Awareness

School districts should develop (and maintain) a plan to protect their data. Once a plan is in place, it is crucial to make sure that Faculty, Staff and the students all understand the plan and effectively implement it.

2.) Train Digital Citizenship

Train your Faculty, Staff and Students digital citizenship best practices. For example, teach them how to spot and report phishing threats, how to spot dangerous emails, and how to detect suspicious links or attachments.

3.) Have a Security Audit Completed

After an audit is completed to ensure any vulnerabilities are removed, ensure those who are conducting the security audit are using methods that will prevent attacks from hitting your network. 

4.) Maintain your Network

Keep your network clean by keeping up-to-date on patches and updates to software and operating systems. Create and review audit logs for any events that seem suspicious.

5.) Develop a Backup Schedule

Backup, Backup, Backup.  Use a cloud-based backup to ensure your data is safe, and develop a schedule to ensure you’re backing up your data on a regular basis.

(Story via EdTech Magazine)