A Hoax that Hits Close to Home

Cyber Security, High Technology, Public Relations, Social Media Posted Apr 25, 2016 by Kayla Krause

Every day there seems to be a new data breach or company hack. The subheads, leads, and takeaways are repetitive and predictable – human error, insecure products and software, evil hackers, lack of plan and preparation, etc. Because my colleagues and I work with security clients we pay close attention to this steady stream of the news, but it’s easy to get jaded to it all – until last week when one headline hit a little too close to home.

Old Rochester Regional (ORR), the junior high and high school I went to, was put on lockdown last for an hour last Thursday after Mattapoisett Police received information from a call center reporting that a gunman was on the high school campus.  Local police and fire departments were sent to the schools to search the facilities and assess the situation before concluding that the incident was a hoax.

ORR_lockdown

Photo Credit: Sippican VillageSoup

ORR wasn’t the only high school to be contacted either – 32 schools in Massachusetts received robocall threats last Thursday. These threats, similar to those received earlier this year, are believed to target facilities either online or via networks with numerous routers. Working with numerous security accounts, I monitor for and hear these stories all day. It’s not often that I put work into the perspective of my personal life however, when I saw this article pop-up and heard from friends and family in my hometown of what was happening I immediately feared for my friends and neighbors.

Neither students nor faculty knew what was happening. Everyone was told that it wasn’t a drill and that the entire campus was on lockdown. After an hour, they were told the school was safe and there was no outside threat. Parents were immediately notified and students and teachers were told the following morning what had happened.

This made me realize how different things are today. Because of the internet and digital age, children have to be taught new procedures and protocols beyond typical fire drills or school evacuations. Now, educational systems have to devise new plans to ensure students are safe, not just through physical means, but from a virtual aspect as well.

Security is a huge part of our lives. Without these new safety technologies, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are today, which makes me appreciate working with the clients that we do. The products and services they provide are not only helping to protect customers from incidents, but in some cases to prevent the actions from even happening.

Because we read so many articles about cyber-attacks it’s easy to think of them as happening to other people and businesses, but the threat is a lot closer to home than we realize, including children in school. These recent events in my hometown reminded me of that unfortunate fact.  I’ll be looking at those articles a little differently now.