A recent malware attack shut down wifi and the Aeries Student Information System in the Huntington Beach Union High School District. This is a reminder that although technology makes education more efficient, it’s also unreliable and our classrooms must be prepared for unexpected technical difficulties.
Regardless of the endless benefits of technology, two of its major flaws are its vulnerability and unpredictability. No matter how secure a network is, anything on the internet is susceptible to hacks, viruses, shutdowns and other malware.
When technology fails, there are consequences that impact all users.
In our case, we had no access to wifi for most of Monday. The cyberattack on the HBUHSD Aeries server disabled all Windows-based devices, which need to be checked by network technicians before they can be used again. The computers in the cafeteria and our HBUHSD network phones were down.
Teachers also couldn’t use the school printers, and many classes had their lesson plans pushed back by a day or two. Fountain Valley High School teachers did an excellent job of adapting to the situation, but we all still lost and wasted time.
The consequences of our technology issues suggest we’re too dependent on it in school, but for good reason. Thanks to technology, we no longer rely on thick encyclopedias when the entirety of what we need to know is on the Internet. We can share and receive information faster than ever and interact with researchers, leaders, other students and more from across the globe within seconds.
Technology makes nearly every aspect of our lives so much easier. For the most part, we rarely experience such malware and wifi shutdowns, so it’s hard to not expect it to run smoothly all the time.
It’s impractical to use less technology to avoid experiencing last week’s events again because, in this day and age, technology is a necessity, especially in education. Using less technology or none at all creates more problems than it solves.
The one thing we can do is prepare ourselves.
Using Google Drive to record your lesson plans is great because you can access them on almost any device. Many teachers already have textbooks and alternative readings in class and substitute plans that can be the lesson for the day. If possible, a lesson for a future day can be taught or students can have a review day.
Students also need to be patient with their teachers and lend a helping hand when there are technical issues. It’s stressful for our teachers, especially if the activity for that day was supposed to be all online.
As for prevention, in a world where personal data and information are gold, the HBUHSD must have well-equipped cybersecurity professionals assess and harden their servers. This responsibility lies in the district, not teachers.
The unreliability and vulnerability of technology are the realities that come with using it. We’ll always have professionals who can resolve and prevent malware in the future, but we need to be ready for technical difficulties.
Editor’s note: This story was edited on March 12 to clarify that a malware attack which led to the shutdown of the Aeries Student Information System did not originate from Aeries.