Student cyber security precautions

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Cyber security should be a priority for every student.

■ Metro Service / Contributed

Thanks to advancements in technology, students and educators are increasingly turning to tablets and computers when working on daily assignments and classroom activities. Students rely on the internet for research and keeping in touch with teachers and other students, and work is even assigned and completed via digital platforms.
Despite the upside of technology, cyber crime is a potential pitfall of all that time spent online. The internet provides instant access and that can put students at risk.
According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, the education sector ranked sixth in the United States for the total number of reported “security incidents.” Schools are data-rich, meaning they give hackers access to information like identification numbers, birthdates, email addresses, financial data, medical records, and more.
Students must understand cyber security risks when working and sharing data online. The following are some tips students can follow.

Protect passwords. Students are urged to keep their passwords to themselves. This prevents others from using accounts maliciously or even in seemingly harmless ways that can put you in trouble, such as searching for inappropriate content in school. Choose complicated passwords that can’t be easily guessed, and opt for two-step authentication whenever offered.

Use secured WiFi networks. Free or open WiFi connections are not encrypted, meaning they can be accessed by anyone. Many cyber criminals gain access to information through these channels. Schools should have encrypted systems in place.

Limit what you share on the internet. Students are urged to be aware of what they share online. According to Data Management, a computing service, information posted to social media is permanent, and deleted items aren’t necessarily gone. Exercise caution on social media. Don’t post unless it is something you would be comfortable sharing in public.

Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing usually occurs through fraudulent email messages that mimic the look of reputable solicitations. Scammers rely on these tactics to tempt people to click on links or download attachments that can put malware on a device and steal personal data. Exercise caution with all links and downloads.

Schedule routine backups. Data can be lost if a device crashes, so routinely backup personal devices and home computers. Backups can be stored on external hard drives or with cloud services.
Exercise caution when file sharing. UC Santa Cruz’s information technology services says viruses and malware can be transmitted by file sharing software, and files offered by others may not be what they say they are. Only used school-approved file sharing options.

Cyber security is something students should prioritize this school year. The right security measures can protect students, their classmates, and their schools.

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