Cybersecurity has always been a stress point in colleges and schools. However, since remote learning has become the new normal, cybercriminals are constantly trying to discover new techniques such as ransomware, phishing, and social engineering to make their moves. And that only made the issue bigger from a vulnerability and budget perspective.
The pandemic resulted in a crisis in every field, and that also includes the educational facilities. For most students, that transition happened way too quickly, and they didn’t have the time to learn about many security issues. With an increasing number of assignments, students do more and more research online, often visiting unprotected websites and downloading corrupted files. Of course, professional writers they can find at Edubirdie can provide all research materials safely, however, students should still be well-aware of the online dangers. Whether you are using personal or corporate laptops, your home network or the one from university, you need to take good care of your personal data.
Not every educational institute has the needed budget to prevent all the cybersecurity risks. Many of them are lured by the free apps and tools that allow them to communicate and give lessons to their class. Unfortunately, these apps and tools mostly come with user tracking, inappropriate content, privacy controls, and sometimes even malware, which elevates the risk of the cybercriminal. So, the following are some security tips that students can use that will provide them extra internet security.
With the replacement of physical schooling with distance learning, teachers and students need to use online tools located in the cloud. Such as email, apps, file-sharing applications, and even remotely access resources from the school network. Also, at the same time, the IT staff and administrative staff may need to access the school network to get documents that are located there. And if the remote access is not secure, hackers can easily take control of the whole network. You can significantly minimize this risk by simply using a VPN, because VPNs offer secure remote access to users and protects all data that goes in and out by encrypting it.
It would help if you also used it on public Wi-Fi networks because public Wi-Fi networks are not secure, making them an easy target for hackers. So, by using a VPN, you can encrypt your connection, and that will allow you to study from coffee shops, dorm rooms, or any public place without worrying that someone may intercept your data.
Use Tools, Websites, and Apps that Encrypt Data
Encryption protects and secures your data you send online from any kind of network snoopers, hackers, or third parties.
Encrypted Websites: to stay safe, you should only use sites with a padlock icon and “HTTPS” in the URL. The “S” stands for secure or encrypted, which means that your data won’t be obtained by an unauthorized user or leaked by third parties.
Use Unique and Strong Passwords
There is a huge number of stolen passwords and usernames by cybercriminals and sold on the dark web. So, if you write a weak password, it can easily be cracked or guessed in just seconds, exposing all your sensitive data. So, to enhance your internet security, you should use apps that generate uncrackable passwords. Or you can even create them on your own, your passwords should be at least eight characters long and have a mix of numbers, special characters, and letters, and you should make sure that they are nonsensical and complex as much as possible. Because when hackers attack, they try millions of combinations from dictionary words and numbers until they get one right.
Schools, colleges, online courses, or basically any academic institution are targets to cybercriminals because student databases are full of personal information. The scams happen when a student or staff member clicks or replies to an email or text message that steals credentials, spreads malware, or worse. There are many cases where cybercriminals steal identities, use students’ emails to apply for loans, and even infect their devices and crash them.
You can identify these kinds of emails by reading the address. For example, if you get an email from an educational institution, the URL should end with “.gov,” so if it ends with “.com,” it is a scam, but it is such a small detail that would rarely be noticed. Again, however, observation is the key when it comes to safety.
Get to Know the Terms and Conditions
When signing up on social media, downloading an app, or joining a website, always read the terms and conditions. View it as an assignment, and make sure that you know what you are agreeing on. Because unknowingly, an app that you are using, for example, can scan your face and share it combined with all your data such as name, contact information, browsing history, etc.
Don’t Share Personal Information
This may already be obvious, but it is an important thing that needs to be mentioned. Don’t share any kind of personal information online. You never know who may read it and use it. It doesn’t take much for someone to enter your email if you have a weak password. And if that happens, the hackers can use information like your full name or address, which can be a threat to your financial security or identity.
So, you may wonder why schools, students, and teachers are more vulnerable to cybercriminals than other organizations and businesses. That is because schools have corporate-size IT networks without the needed budget and stuff to secure them properly. And their networks host a huge amount of sensitive user data of students, teachers, administrative staff, and even parents. The most common risks that they face are data breaches, social engineering fraud, and ransomware.
So, to stay safe, update the software on your devices constantly, use separate passwords on every account, watch the warning signs, always remember that a legit email will never ask for your password, and follow the already mentioned tips above. So, you can enjoy the internet with bigger confidence, knowing that you took the necessary steps to secure yourself, your devices, and your data.