Stranger danger warning for public school email system
Kindergarten students starting at public schools this year will be issued with email addresses with scrambled digits at the end of their name in a bid to stop them being contacted by online creeps.
However cyber security experts fear for existing students, who will keep using their easily guessable email address of a first and last name, because it would be too "disruptive" to change the address now.
A note sent by the NSW Department of Education to school staff outraged experts who say it is not good enough to acknowledge the problem but fail to fix existing accounts.
The latest change comes off the back of eSafety Commissioner advice previously revealed by The Daily Telegraph which advised authorities around the nation about the importance of student email addresses which could easily be guessed.
It said "user names that are easy to guess, along with their associated email addresses, are considered a security risk".
In a note to school staff this week the Department of Education said: "In order to address these security concerns without disrupting existing students, NSW (Department of Education) has changed the standard username format for all new enrolments to NSW public schools."
"Any student in NSW that had a NSW (Department of Education) user ID during 2020 will not see any change to their username, even if they enrol into a different public school."
But cyber expert Susan McLean said using disruption as an excuse was "rubbish" and they must do something about it.
"Child safety on or offline should never be too hard - it is a defined problem, it is a known problem."
"It is the creepy predator, it is the violent ex who can search where the kids are going to school.
"It is not good enough to say it is all too hard for the kids already in the system, that is a clear breach of their duty of care."
Online safety campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist agreed and said the Department of Education should change it for primary school students at a bare minimum.
"I commend the education department for scrambling the email digits, despite the inconvenience and disruption should be extended at a minimum throughout the primary school years," she said.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said cyber security in schools was a national issue and the Department would respond rigorously to any threat to students and staff across our network. "The Department's email system has filters to detect spam and inappropriate content in emails," she said.
Originally published as Stranger danger warning for public school email system