WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Nearly every high school in the United States has its own computer system. While it's a great way for students to stay on top of their work, Purdue Cyber Forensics Professor Marcus Rogers said it's also become an easy target for cybercriminals.
"They tend to be pretty wide open and insecure and there's a lot of ability to use those as test beds," said Rogers.
Rogers said cybercriminals will use the systems as practice. While it may seem harmless, he said what starts out as practice can often turn into something more serious.
"Credit card fraud, identity theft, or in some cases, they might even be going out and looking at some sort of foreign espionage," said Rogers.
That's why Rogers and two Purdue graduate students are working to put a stop to it.
The group spends nearly 10 hours a week researching how these cybercriminals gain access to such sites. Rogers said tracking these criminals down can often be challenging.
"When the attack is investigated, the trail ends at the school and unfortunately, the school looks like they're the ones attacking the Pentagon or attacking the New York Times, when in fact, it's been somebody further down the chain who's used them as a jumping off point,"said Rogers.
Rogers said the group will work on the research project for at least the next year.
The hope is that upon completion, they can meet with school administrators and teach them how to make their systems more secure.
In the meantime, Rogers said high schools need to make system security a top priority.
"You know, that takes time and money and with budgets tight, that's not usually high on their priority list, but it should be," said Rogers.
Rogers said so far, they've identified about 10 high schools in the United States that have fallen victim to cybercriminals. Yet, he said for every 10 they find, there are probably 10 more waiting to be discovered.
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