A Lesson in Cybersecurity for Back-to-School

August marks the beginning of back-to-school. With more schools and educational institutions implementing technology inside classrooms, how prepared are we to deal with online threats? Today, we’re looking at the latest threats targeting the education industry as well as how common programs used in classrooms, like Microsoft Excel, can be compromised. 

Latest Malware Threats

Based on a report by Mimecast, botnets, ransomware and phishing emails are the latest malware threats targeting a variety of professional industries. When they looked at attacks between April and June 2019 it was reported that the Professional Education sector has nearly 9x as many attacks as compared to the average sector.

Emotet and Adwind are two Trojan viruses that are often unknowingly, yet willingly, downloaded by computer users. As their name suggests, they are like the story of the Trojan Horse and are most commonly bundled with free downloads from the internet, such as games, emails, or a disguised legitimate file.

Botnets, ransomware and phishing emails are the latest malware threats.

Gandcrab is a ransomware virus that puts a lock on your files and changes their extensions. Like other ransomware viruses, it is labeled as ransomware due to the way it keeps your personal data captive and demands a ransom in return. Once a computer has been infected with ransomware, no one – not even the F.B.I. — can restore the files.

Necurs is one of the largest botnet operations in the world. It is able to spread malware quickly over a large number of computers. As a result, it is indirectly responsible for a major chunk of cybercrime.

Plus now we’re seeing an increase in the number of impersonation email attacks. The attacker engages the user by impersonating co-workers and superiors via email and then asking you to do random or odd tasks. The end goal here is to get personal information, spread malware, and receive financial gains.

How the Education Sector is Affected

In the first half of 2019, the Professional Education sector is the top industry targeted by attackers, with users here seeing almost nine times more attacks than average!

This is likely due to the Education Industry having a constantly changing student population who are unlikely to have high-security awareness. As a result, it is much easier for attackers to gain access to personal data.

As it turns out, Microsoft Office is one of the most common programs that are targeted by attackers, with Excel files ending in .xlsm being the most popular. This makes sense as almost everyone in the education industry – students and professors alike – would need to use Microsoft Excel on a daily basis.

How To Protect Yourself

If you, or someone you know, is heading back to school make sure they understand the basics of avoiding online threats by sharing this article. Also:

  • Check all email attachments before opening them to make sure they’re from a legitimate sender.
  • Do not open any attachments that are from unknown senders or unfamiliar email addresses.
  • If you receive a suspicious email from your boss or co-worker, double-check the sender’s email address before replying. Most of the time, the impersonation email’s address will be different than your boss or co-worker’s actual work email address.
Use an antivirus program to scan any files you download onto your computer before you open them

We also recommend using an antivirus program like McAfee Total Protection:

  • Side step phishing attacks before they happen with clear warnings of risky websites, links, and files.
  • Secure your firewall and block hackers from accessing your home network.
  • Prevent viruses, malware, and ransomware from infecting your PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
  • It protects all the devices you own (Windows, Mac OS, iPhone and Android).

We’ve partnered with McAfee to get a special discount for FixMeStick customers. Save today because you’ve cleaned your computer with the FixMeStick virus removal device! Check out the deal here.

And lastly, use a FixMeStick to get rid of any viruses that may be hidden in those Excel files or have snuck past the first line of defense.

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below. And don’t forget to share with a friend to keep everyone safe this back-to-school-season!

18 comments

  1. James Harocopos - Reply

    I understand that McAfee takes up a lot of memory and slows down your computer.

          • Linda -

            Hi William, the FixMeStick is designed to remove viruses on operating computers. If you are seeing a blue Windows screen on your computer, you can still run a FixMeStick scan but it will not fix this blue Windows screen issue. However, we are currently developing a product that could help with this. Please stay tuned to our newsletters in the upcoming months to find out more about this!

  2. Pieter Maat - Reply

    I have Norton security on my computer but I AM unable to use fixmestick. Do i have to disable Norton? I am going to use MacAfee. Can two antivirus be installed on a computer?

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Pieter, FixMeStick is compatible with other antivirus programs like McAfee and Norton. You do not have to disable them before using your FixMeStick. Could you take a look at these getting started instructions for your FixMeStick here? If you are still having trouble, please email us at support@fixmestick.com and we’d be able to assist you.

  3. Anonymous - Reply

    If I have Viper do I still need McAfee. I hear they interfere with each other.

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi there, FixMeStick is compatible with other antivirus programs such as Vipre. If you are still having trouble running the FixMeStick, please contact us at support@fixmestick.com and we’ll get back to you!

  4. sophie blancato nittolo - Reply

    Why is so darn hard to open the Fixme stick every time I need help from customer service

      • David Miller - Reply

        I just wanted to say that although your customer service is a tiny bit of a hassle to access because it isn’t “live access” by telephone, you guys did me solid!
        I hadn’t let anyone know for at least a few months because I wanted to give it an extended usage to make sure Eve was good, but now it is!
        Your advice to try completely uninstalling my Webroot Antivirus program did the trick!
        Now I’m able to just run my FixMeStick one or two times a week overnight and my computer is pretty much running like new!
        Thank you!
        David Miller

        • Linda - Reply

          Hi David, I’m glad that we were able to help. Just so you know, if you would like to receive live assistance, you can always go to https://www.fixmestick.com/ during our operating hours (10 AM to 6 PM, EST, Mondays to Saturdays), then click on the orange ‘Chat’ button at the bottom right corner and a live agent will then answer and respond to your questions in real-time.

  5. Mike Petro - Reply

    Google is as invasive as any virus and getting worse. Please include all Google intrusions when identifying and removing malware.

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Mike, thank you for your comment. We will definitely look into how Google affects your privacy for possible future blog posts.

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