The new school year is an exciting and busy time for students, faculty, and staff of all ages. Because it tends to also be a busy time filled with new experiences and faces It is also a prime time for hackers, identity thieves, and other bad actors to take advantage.
The most important thing to remember is, that you are a target… we all are! Bad actors are not only after your data but often your device access or even just your credentials to gain access to a network or accounts you or your device connects to. Kids and young adults are even more likely to fall for scams. So, no matter what age a user is, if they are old enough to use a computer, they are old enough to be educated about the dangers of fishing and other online threats. Personal and financial well-being as well as the reputation of the institution or organization you associate with should be an important concern to anyone using a device that connects to the internet.
HERE ARE THE TOP 10 TIPS TO KEEP YOURSELF SECURE
- Install antivirus security software and keep all your software up to date.
2. Always think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments, even if they look like they’re from someone you know. Avoid clickbait, online quizzes, tabloid headers, ‘free’ offers, or unsolicited ads. If you’re not sure, contact the sender by a method you know is legitimate to confirm they sent it. Also, be careful what you download.
- Download only from reputable sites and sources.
- Scan files for viruses before downloading them.
- Pay attention to the file extensions.
3. Beware of phishing! Don’t give out your personal information. Remember, con artists, know how to fake their identity. The best way to avoid scams is to approach all unexpected messages, offers, and phone calls with healthy skepticism. (Watch Phishing Training). Watch out for typical beginning-of-the-year scams.
- Email scams, containing “important information about your school account,” or a “problem with your registration”.
- Student-targeted scams are designed to cheat you out of money, such as scholarship scams, fake “tuition payment processors”, textbook rental or book-buying scams, housing scams, tutoring scams, and work-from-home scams. (see “Tuition payment processor” scams – from 2016 but still current: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2016/09/11/scam-alert-avoid-college-payment-processors/ or Scholarship scams: http://www.fraud.org/back_to_school_scams(link is external)(end of the article)
- “Tech support” scams where you get a call supposedly from “the Service Desk” or even “Microsoft” or “Apple” telling you there’s a problem with your computer.
- IRS scams, demanding that students or their parents wire money immediately to pay a fake “federal student tax”. Messages asking for your login information, no matter how legitimate they may look. No one other than you need to know your passwords. (see Info from the IRS about fake “federal student tax” (from 2016 but still current): https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-latest-scam-variation-involving-bogus-federal-student-tax(link is external)
- Fake friend requests on social media or Fake Dropbox or Google Doc notices
4. Protect your passwords. Make them long and strong, never reveal them to anyone, and use different passwords for different accounts or consider using a secure encrypted password manager. (Watch Password Safety Training)
5. Use multi-factor authentication or two-factor authentication in addition to having that strong password. Setting up multi-factor authentication on each and every account and device adds an additional layer of protection. (Watch MFA – 2FA Training)
6. Use secure websites (Look for the HTTPS), secure Wi-Fi, and trusted devices when accessing personal data while browsing or doing online banking, or purchasing items. Free wi-fi networks are the most common sources of online security problems. Make sure your internet connection is secure by using a secure VPN connection.
7. Learn the dangers of social media and be cautious of what you’re sharing on social networks. Many of the most dangerous security offenses by people are things that they might not even think about as risky behavior. Also, remember your personal posts can affect the organizations you are associated with. The internet does not have a delete key. (Watch Online Safety Training)
8. Never leave devices unattended. Devices go missing in the blink of an eye. Most of us have a good amount of data on our devices that a bad actor would love to take advantage of. Also, don’t forget to Log off or lock your computer when stepping away when it’s in a secure location. Log out of online accounts when you are done using them. Clear Browsing History
9. Keep your privacy setting on! Web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings available to protect your privacy online.
10. Back up your data in multiple places and have a recovery plan.
It’s everyone’s job to ensure Cyber-Safety at school, work, or at home and training is the most effective way to detect and avoid cyberattacks.
From website data breaches, cyber-attacks, or malicious emails, people are the biggest cybersecurity vulnerability. A lack of cyber security knowledge is a costly mistake to make, but keeping yourself secure with the right training, can reduce the risk of falling victim to cybercrime.
If you have questions, contact us for more information about our services or schedule a consultation with one of our Security Experts.
Braver Technology Solutions | WeMakeITWork@BraverTechnology.com
Boston 617.315.8515 | Taunton 508.824.2260 | Providence 401.484.7900