Back to school season is upon us. Many school officials, teachers, students, and families don’t know what this school year will look like, as the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting when and how students are returning to school. One thing everyone can agree on is that we want to keep our children as safe and healthy as possible. Precautions are being taken to protect against the virus, but the pandemic is also having an effect on children’s cyber-security. What precautions are being taken against cyber-threats?
Cyber-threats not only focus on corporations or businesses; they attack at home too. We’ve shared how hackers and scammers use every opportunity to scam people for personal information and money. When masses of people started working from home, we covered many topics and tips about transitioning to working from home. Now, most company-issued computers are connected to a network that is protected by firewalls and anti-virus software. Employees are being trained to recognize scams. However, many home computers and the children using them for school are exposed to new risks.
There are many forms cyber-attacks can take. The most common method is phishing. A phishing attack usually takes place when the you receive an e-mail from an account that in many cases looks legitimate, but isn’t (e-mail spoofing). The e-mail will ask you to click a link or open a file. By clicking this link, you have granted access to a cyber-attacker who may load malware onto your system or trick you into providing personal information.
As many schools are now offering virtual learning, students have been communicating with their teachers and friends via e-mail. The best way to protect yourself and your children from becoming a victim of a cyber-attack is to Prepare, Share, and Be Aware.
Prepare Your Systems. Home computers should be equipped with a good anti-virus software that will scan the computer and catch unwanted files that may have resulted from a cyber-attack attempt. It is important that this software not only be in place, but kept up to date. Scheduling a check for updates nighty is a good idea so you always know you have the most up-to-date protection available. Change your privacy settings and shut off location features. You may also opt to set passwords when organizing sessions on Zoom or other virtual communications, and make sure that any meeting room invitations you receive are legitimate and private.
Share and Be Aware. Talk to your family members, including children, about cyber threats and what to look for. Prevention is the best weapon against cyber-attacks, and it can be as easy as paying close attention to e-mails, pop-ups, or any changes to a program or the computer system that appears odd. If your child is using e-mail, make sure they know their teachers/friends’ e-mail addresses, so if something funny is received (e-mail spoof), they can catch it and alert you right away. Make sure they know to never provide personal information to anyone through the internet, and to NEVER CLICK A LINK unless they are absolutely certain it is something meant for them. Schedule a “How’s your computer running” and “Did you get any e-mails from your teacher today?” routine check.
For more information about internet safety for kids, here’s a resourceful webpage from the Federal Trade Commission that is full of information about protecting kids online.
We want the rest of 2020 to be as safe and uneventful as possible. We already have enough to worry about without having the risk of cyber-attacks.
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