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Getting cyber safe while going back to school

Whether you’re back to school in-person or online, the new school year means new opportunities – like learning how to be safe online. It’s almost impossible to be a student today without being online at least sometimes, which comes with risks like exposed personal data and cyber attacks. That’s why it’s important to make cyber security a part of your back-to-school routine.

two students looking at tablets, with notebooks, pencils and update circles

Here are a few ways you can make it happen.

Watch out for scams

You should always look out for scams like phishing when you’re online. The more active you are online, the more scams might be targeted towards you. When emailing new contacts or adding new friends on social media, take an extra second to make sure the account or contact is legitimate.

You might also receive resources or links from various online groups you belong to. It’s important to double check these links to make sure they are legitimate, especially if they’re coming from sources you aren’t familiar with. Scammers will often send messages to all contacts of an account they have compromised. Staying alert and watching out for the signs of phishing will help keep your online activity secure.

Manage your accounts and passwords

A new school year might mean using new accounts to access different online spaces and resources. These new accounts will need new passwords. If you receive a default password with a new account, make sure you change it. Never use the same password for different accounts.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the number of passwords or passphrases you have to remember, a password manager is a great way to organize them and keep them secure. A password manager is a useful tool when it comes to cyber security, and you don’t have to worry about remembering all your login information.

Whenever it is available, you should enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA offers an additional layer of security, and it could protect you if a cyber criminal were to get hold of your password. Many accounts offer MFA, and you can often choose the authentication factor that works best for you.

Let your devices help

If adding cyber security to your routine seems like a daunting task, there are a few things you can do to let your devices help.

The first thing to do is to make sure you have automatic updates enabled on all your devices. Updating apps and software as they become available is crucial for both performance and security. If you enable automatic updates on your devices, you won’t have to worry about remembering to update all the time.

The second thing you want to remember is to install a reputable anti-virus software on all of your devices. This software serves as a last resort in case any viruses, like malware or spyware, break through your other cyber security defences. Do some research to find the right software for you, and then make sure to download it from a legitimate source. Sometimes malware can disguise itself as anti-virus software so it’s important to be careful as you choose an anti-virus provider. Anti-virus software will give you some peace of mind knowing your device has extra protection.

Conclusion

Getting back to school is an exciting time. While it’s filled with new opportunities and connections, it’s important to take a step back from all the excitement and make sure you’re staying safe online. If you watch out for scams, manage your accounts and let your devices help, you’ll ace your cyber security test.

 

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