Introduction to Phishing and Cybersecurity

Course Overview

Section 1:

What is Phishing?

Why Phishing Matters?

Section 2:

Phishing Strategies

Staying Safe from Cyber Threats

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a strategy used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data such as usernames, passwords, or personal information by pretending to come from a trustworthy source. Attempts can come in the form of emails, phone calls, or text messages.


Percent of education organizations that were targets of phishing attacks in 2021

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Average amount of money stolen / cost in phishing attacks on school districts 2016 – 2020


Data Breach


Whenever an unauthorized person or source gains access to confidential or personal information. Data Breaches almost always happen due to employees within an organization falling for a phishing scam or other cybersecurity attack.


Social Engineering


The most common methods that cybercriminals use to gain access to personal or confidential information. Social Engineering relies on manipulating people through fear of something bad happening, trust of a usually reliable organization or business, or both at the same time.



After a successful phishing attempt, hackers will prevent users or organizations from accessing their data or files they need to operate unless the school or organization agrees to pay money or meet other demands. It often only takes one person to create a data breach that can make a whole organization hostage to a ransomware attack

Internet of Things (IoT)


Any commonly used device that has access to the internet. These devices, often are some of the most vulnerable to attack because of a lack of built in security, user error, or failing to regularly keep the systems updated. Examples include laptop computers, personal cell phones, and 1:1 student devices that all connect to a organization’s internet.

Why Phishing Matters?

Because Cybercriminals know how to trick us:

Similar to people who create marketing, cybercriminals know how to psychologically trick you using the Curiosity Gap. This is the space between what our brains already know and what we think we should know or need to know when presented with new information. Online marketers use it to get people to click on links for news, ads, or items; cybercriminals use the same methods to gain access to personal information.

Schools keep a large amount of personal data on both staff and students:

Beyond the individual student grades that teachers store, schools’ information systems keep vast amounts of information on our families lives. Personal medical information, addresses, phone numbers, parent / student emails, birth dates, and special education needs are all examples of private information that schools are entrusted to keep safe.

The Greatest Weakness in our Cybersecurity: You

Technology support can put in place the most secure systems in place but no matter what, the greatest weakness in the chain is still human error. This is why constant awareness and training is so important. The bigger the organization, the more employees it has to have. More people creates more opportunities for cybercriminals. It only takes one person within the organization to click on the wrong link or download an infected file and the whole system could be locked out.

Source: KnowBe4