School is finally out for students all across the country! This is a great time to relax, unwind and enjoy time together before the start of the next school year or, for high school graduates, college move in day. It’s also the perfect time to brush up on a few key cyber safety tips with your teen!
Whether they are off at university or spending time in the high school computer lab, students can often encounter threats to their identity or computer security online. It makes sense—every year, students spend more and more time on their computers for research, drafting documents and completing projects. But they can still take measures to keep their computer as secure as possible! Go over the following reminders with the scholar in your life to make their school year as productive and stress free as possible. And of course, feel free to give yourself a refresher course as well! These tips are especially helpful for students, but are worth knowing at any stage of life.
Be suspicious. When it comes to dealing with unfamiliar links, ads or programs that may pop up while browsing, it’s best to take the cautious route. If you come across an odd email or text alert from your bank or other institution, be sure to check and double check the sender address or number to confirm its authenticity—if you’re doubtful, give that bank (or other institution/company) a phone call at a number you already know and use. You’ll be able to find out right away if what you received is normal or a red flag.
This rule goes for other media as well. If you receive download links for a textbook or study program, proceed with caution—if it looks too good to be true, it really might be! And, finally, emails from strange websites are best placed in your junk or spam folder.
Surf responsibly. Today, students are often told that it’s wrong to illegally download music, movies, TV shows and other forms of media. This advice is especially important while away at school—if you are using your school’s servers, and illegally download something, it may be easier to detect than you’d think! Most schools offer free internet use… but only in exchange for compliance with certain rules and integrity, so you don’t want to sacrifice your internet privilege or face disciplinary action for a simple song or movie download.
Following your school’s rules isn’t just a good idea from a disciplinary standpoint—it can also greatly reduce your risk of harming your computer with malware by downloading from some websites.
Take advantage of security programs and scans. You may not realize it, but the virus protection software on your computer is working hard in the background! When you plug in a USB drive for a project, take advantage of your computer’s routine scan of that drive—this can protect you should there be any dangerous material on it.
Follow basic safety rules. Often, the simplest and most fundamental safety tips are the ones with the biggest impact. By simply not sharing your passwords with friends—and, of course, creating high-security passwords with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols—you can greatly improve your computer’s security.