Back to School: 5 Top Cybersecurity Tips at this Busy Time

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It’s the last week of the summer holidays, and parents, kids, teens, college students and teachers alike are getting ready to go ‘Back to School’.  

It’s an exciting time, a busy time, a nerve-wracking time – and it’s not without its pitfalls. The beginning of the new school year can often fall prey to murky cybersecurity occurrences – so here are our 5 top tips to keep your return to school, college or kindergarten hassle-free!

Registration emails

Emails are always a target, and a prime vector for threat actors. As always, if an email looks suspicious, don’t open it!  Many educational institutions will have a specific form of email or website ending, such as ‘.edu’ – so if the email address is giving you cause for concern, be on your guard. Another easy giveaway is the lack of ‘HTTP’ or ‘HTTPS’ in the search bar. When it comes to giving out personal details – name, address, children’s names – make sure you are replying to an official sender, and not to a spam email.

School fees

You may well be expecting to pay school or college fees at the beginning of the school year. But at this time of year, there are many fake requests for tuition fees, ‘problems’ with tuition payments, and password account requests. No official forum will ever ask you to divulge these kinds of details online – and certainly never send more money without checking first where you are sending it to.

Fake friend requests

Knowing that you or your child may be joining a new class or year group, it’s not out of the ordinary to be added to new WhatsApp, online chat or social media groups, or to be sent friend requests from other parents in the class, or from peers. Don’t feel pressure to respond straight away – it’s perfectly acceptable to wait until you’ve met them in person before you accept a social media friend request, as you don’t know if you are being targeted by an impersonator, or catfish.

Prepare your school

Ransomware in the education sector has ramped up in recent years. Children and their parents are less likely to notice if someone is using their identity to commit fraud, especially if the child doesn’t have a bank account in their name to alert them – so students’ personal information is especially valuable for hackers to get their hands on. 

It’s also common for teachers to share passwords for streaming services in the classroom – opening up the potential for hackers to exploit this type of password sharing, steal credentials and potentially compromise other accounts used by that organization. Raise awareness within your institution by implementing two-factor authentication where school forums, student accounts and online educational programs are concerned. 

And prepare the students!

Laptops, mobile devices, and tablets are all regular features of the school kit in the digital age. Make sure every member of your family knows how to enable their security features – be it Face ID, or a strong password. 

Enable all privacy settings on your file storage as well, especially if you use a cloud to backup. These days it’s not just about preventing cheating on a school test – there’s a lot of data and personal information at stake!

So this September, start off on the right foot by utilizing these cybersecurity tips – and enjoy a hassle-free school year!

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