Computer hackers warning as kids study from home

Biddulph schools this week urged parents and pupils to be “extra vigilant”, as scammers appeared to be targeting those working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Karl Hession, whose children attend James Bateman Middle School and Knypersley First School, said that he watched as hackers, whom he described as “scum”, attempted to break into his online bank account. While one of the children worked on a computer upstairs and the other downstairs, he saw over his child’s shoulder a notification appear from software called TeamViewer, a legitimate application that allows remote work, as well as remote control and support. He said: “When we switched one computer on, we got a notification saying that TeamViewer was active. We were upstairs checking something and the screen just started moving, so we assumed that it was my young lad downstairs doing it. “As we watched the screen, it started logging into our bank details. I switched the programme off immediately and uninstalled the application.” TeamViewer is not affiliated with either of the two schools - the application was installed by Mr Hession. It allows users to share their screens between different computers so that the same information and documents can be accessed on both. There have been a number of incidents in the past where the TeamViewer application has been used by third-party hackers to steal users’ credentials and log-in details. After a spate of scams in which a number of customers were defrauded, the provider TalkTalk blocked the software in the UK in 2017. He added: “This did not have anything to do with the schools. Everything is run through their websites, but we contacted them both anyway. It could’ve been a link that one of the kids clicked on. It could have been anything. I just wanted to warn everyone.” A spokesperson for James Bateman Middle School and
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its ICT provider said: “At James Bateman, we only provide links to parents and students that are used within school and therefore have been extensively vetted to make sure that they are both safe and legitimate. “We have not provided anything to parents that includes
the use of TeamViewer or any such remote access clients. The main remote learning platforms in use are Microsoft Teams and Padlet, both of which have been configured in the most secure manner. “We would urge parents and pupils to be extra vigilant at this time as it is clear
that scammers are using this unprecedented situation as an opportunity to exploit others.” The Chronicle also contacted Knypersley First School, but did not receive a response before deadline yesterday (Wednesday).