K-12 Schools

Cybersecurity tips from machine learning researcher

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High school students on laptops

Machine learning is offering insights into the behaviour of malicious bots by tracking them as they evolve over time to evade detection.

It’s a powerful tool, but it’s not the only one needed to keep students safe in increasingly online learning environment explains Miranda Mowbray, a researcher in machine learning and keynote speaker at this year’s annual conference of JISC, AARNet’s sister network in the UK.

The majority of learners are under the age of 40 and are savvier than older generations when it comes to the risks to the infringement of their data. But their experience with technology could, some research suggests, lead to riskier behaviour.

Overall, digital natives are as vulnerable to bots — also known as malware — as the rest of the population, with risks largely depending on their own cyber-literacy.

As machine learning works to out-smart the bots, it’s just one aspect in a landscape of remediation, prevention and detection needed to keep students safe online.

Miranda has the following tips to help students take responsibility themselves:

  • Back up your data
  • Report emails that you suspect so that others stay protected
  • Auto update – it ensures your patching is up to date
  • Enable your firewall and use antivirus software
  • Switch on encryption on your wireless network
  • Use screen lock or auto-lock on your mobile devices
  • Disable your Bluetooth connectivity when not in use
  • Change default passwords straightaway
  • Ensure different passwords for social and financial purposes
  • Don’t open links or attachments from strangers
  • Check your bank statements so you can spot any anomalies early on
  • And finally, if something seems too good to be true, that may be because it isn’t true

More information and support for staying safe online is available at Stay Smart Online, the Australian Government’s online safety and security website.

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