Is Cybersecurity Training on your Back-to-School List?

________

by Michael Huber, Director of Business Development

It feels like summer just began, and we hate to say it, but the start of another school year is upon us. Whether you have small children (finally) heading to school or perhaps you’re continuing your own education, it’s time to check items off the back-to-school shopping list. However, chances are there’s one item that is not on the list sent from your school: cybersecurity awareness.

School today looks very different from when you and I were last in a classroom. Instead of pens and notebooks, students need laptops and webcams. Instead of working on their cursive handwriting, kids are learning how to navigate online learning systems and use video conferencing apps. This year, with K-12 students spending more time online, cybercriminals are targeting schools and students more than ever before.

Here’s your back-to-school cybersecurity checklist.

Z

Familiarize yourself with your children’s devices & learning platforms.

If your school provides a laptop or tablet, sit down with your child, and explore the device and learning software they are using, familiarizing yourself with it together. Talk with your student about what behavior or online activities are appropriate to do while using school devices. Then, only download school-approved apps to minimize risk.

Z

Make sure your devices & software are kept up to date.

When you receive a message to update your child’s device or software, install these as soon as possible to ensure you have the most up to date protections. Software updates frequently contain important security patches. Once you’ve researched and installed the best antivirus and security software for you, be sure to consistently update these as well to ensure the greatest protection.

Z

Make use of parental controls & privacy settings.

As a parent, take a moment to understand your student’s digital footprint – what social media platforms, apps, gaming, etc. are they using regularly. Then, have an ‘online safety’ discussion with your kids. Let them know potential online dangers, red flags to look out for, and what to do if they encounter an inappropriate or uncomfortable situation. For additional safety, configure your parental controls and privacy settings on all accounts to avoid oversharing information, such as unnecessary location data.

Z

Protect your child’s passwords.

It’s important that everyone in your family, including your child (no matter their age) knows the importance of not sharing or reusing passwords. Use strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts, and consider using two-factor authentication on every site that supports it. Remember, schools should not ask you to send them your login information via email.

Z

Avoid phishing scams and teach your children what to look out for.

In the real world, you teach your children not to get into cars with strangers. Online, you need to teach them not to click on links or file attachments sent to them by strangers. Additionally, remember that anything shared online is accessible and could easily be leveraged against your child or your family. Information, such as which school your children attend, could be readily available. Be mindful of fake emails or calls from people pretending to be from the school, asking for private information or payments.

While access to the digital world is great for expanding a student’s education, take the proactive opportunity to review simple online safety measures so you or your student can focus on learning and having fun.