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Guest blog from Notre Dame Senior School Digital Leaders about hosting an assembly on hacking

Published: 27th June 2019

Digital Leaders at Notre Dame Senior School took the opportunity to let their fellow students know some of the most common pitfalls when it comes to selecting passwords. In this blog the Digital Leaders look at how they decided on this topic and give their top tips for delivering an engaging and interesting assembly.

As a result of our Digital Leaders training, we decided to put a question box in our computer science classroom, where pupils could ask us questions or raise concerns they might have. The box soon filled up. Whilst some were rather silly such as “how do I move the mouse”, quite a few pupils wanted to know more about the well-publicised, yet little understood, subject of hacking.

So we took the subject to the masses and decided to hold an assembly for our Year 7 peers to explain to them about what hacking is, why it happens and even how to do it. The timing was perfect too as we recently learnt, from the results of the first National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) UK cyber survey, that in 2019 23.2 million people still use ‘123456’ as their password, amongst other mind-blowingly simple passwords.

Key message

We started by talking about hackers and the different types of hacking. Unethical hackers hack out of malice and for notoriety on social media and other websites that are easy to get into. Ethical hackers hack for positive reasons, such as being employed to protect big companies from being hacked and to get rid of bugs. Even though some unethical hackers get caught, and are punished under the Computer Misuse Act, some have been rumoured to be employed as ethical hackers as they have the skills necessary and have thought of clever and interesting ways to break a computer system that others have not. Let us not forget hacking is a very clever, complicated skill.

The second message we shared was about how simple some people’s passwords are and how easy they are to break, which is why hackers focus on this in the first place. We also tricked lots of Year 7’s into giving away their passwords by putting their hands up and admitting to some of the most easy-to-crack passwords. It was worrying how many pupils had fallen foul of this. The most common password is still ‘123456’ which, sadly, is then followed by ‘123456789’ then ‘qwerty, and then ‘password’. What are people these days thinking? Many people also use names in their password, with the most common name used being ‘Ashley’. Most hackers are clever enough to look elsewhere for your password too, from your social media profiles for example. If you mention your dog called ‘Fluffy’ the hacker can guess that it may be your password. A top tip is to use three words including: capitals, lowercase, numbers and a symbol. For example 123* will take a hacker so long to figure out they will most likely just give up trying!

Notre Dame Senior School Digital Leaders smile for the camera

Top (Digital Leader) Tips on speaking in assembly

  1. When speaking in front of people you need to believe in what you are saying.
  2. You do not need to know what you are saying off by heart, but you need to know the meaning behind what you are saying.
  3. You need to speak truthfully.
  4. Another tip is pretending no one is there, imagine the room is empty and that will take the pressure off, it works really well but don’t forget to project your voice too.
  5. Don’t race through what you’re saying, pace yourself, take your time, it will calm any nerves too. Once you get going you’ll be fine, but keep it steady.
  6. Finally, live in the moment and enjoy it!

What else have we been up to as Digital Leaders

As Digital Leaders we have also conducted other assemblies, this time to the whole school, on Safer Internet Day giving pupils a quiz on ‘Big Data’ and what happens to our data and what could happen to it in the future if we are not careful. We have also been busy doing our training, where some have found it easier than others to fit it in around our studies.

What’s next…

So, you may be wondering what’s next?  Well we are planning an exciting Digital Leaders notice board, which will:

  • Highlight what we have been up to,
  • What will we be doing next,
  • Highlight some of the most important messages from our training and any important / relevant things to look out for in the digital world.

Lastly, we are also going to be interviewing the next Year 7 Digital Leader applicants to hopefully find the next generation of budding Digital Leaders!

Tweet from Notre Dame Senior School Digital Leaders

Thank you Notre Dame Senior School for being outstanding Digital Leaders and for writing this very engaging blog.  If your Digital Leaders would like to write a guest blog, please contact [email protected]