Getting back to school safely – a quick guide
The times when education was limited to textbooks and classrooms are long gone. Now school and student life happen more and more in the digital world. Especially since the pandemic, virtual learning environments and remote lectures have become a part of schoolwork. So, it’s no wonder that as the new school year begins, many start it with a new device.
And while phones and computers are essential for school, they are just as important for our everyday lives. Therefore, online security ensures both a productive school year and a protected online life. Because if security is ignored, malware can make a device and all its content useless, jeopardizing all the work done you’ve done. And there are many other threats to our devices, privacy, identity – even money.
Therefore, as school starts, it’s important to secure all devices, and not only prepare backpacks and books. But while the threats constantly evolve, protection is often both available and easy to get. So, we have gathered the following tips to help you or your child get back to school securely. Find out below how online security can help you both at school and in everyday life – at the same time.
Start with securing your devices
Antivirus protects you against all malware that you might encounter. Because it blocks viruses in real-time, you can download apps and files without worrying if they are safe or not. It’s really that simple.
So, get an antivirus for your devices. The easiest way is to get an app you can use for all phones, tablets, and computers in your family with the same subscription. The best security apps, like TalkTalk’s SuperSafe Online Security, even protect your money from scammers when banking and shopping online.
Keep your apps up to date
However, not even an antivirus can protect your device from every possible threat. Apps and systems sometimes have critical flaws that can endanger your whole device. That’s why they are updated regularly – to improve their security.
And nobody really likes to bother and keep on track with the updates. But lucky for you, you don’t have to. Enable automatic updates on your devices, and you will always have the latest security patches.
Strengthen your shields with unique passwords
Online accounts are valuable to criminals, because they can steal personal details within them, or sell their contents. For example, gaming accounts include content criminals can sell online. And they can use personal details for identity theft.
Protect your accounts – including school-related accounts – with strong and unique passwords. This way if criminals steal a password, they can’t break into all your accounts. The easiest way is to get a password manager to generate and securely store your credentials for you. It also makes sure they are always available on all your devices. You can use the same manager for all personal and school-related credentials.
Set a double lock for double safety
Sometimes criminals manage to steal passwords from online services. But a stolen password alone is useless – if you set a double lock to your accounts with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA requires an additional verification step, such as a fingerprint or a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password. So, even if criminals stole your password, they would still need to steal your phone to hijack your account.
Tune into Wi-Fi safety 101
Exercise caution when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks. You can never know who runs the network and why. Sometimes even password protection in a Wi-Fi hotspot guarantees nothing. So, if you are studying in a café or have to use public Wi-Fi otherwise, avoid transmitting sensitive data, like entering passwords or banking information.
If you have a VPN app that encrypts your connection then switch the VPN on, and no one can spy on what you do. Having a VPN is also an essential travel partner whenever you are abroad, and you have to use Wi-Fi at airports and hotels, for example.
Don’t take the bait – think before you click
Phishing means tricking you into giving information to scammers. They are usually after login credentials and personal information. Also, in this case they want to hijack your accounts or commit identity theft – just like we explained earlier.
Be cautious of these phishing attempts. Scammers often use shock and surprise – like prizes, delivery notifications, gifts and free content, or account warnings, payment issues and so on. If you get emails or messages like this, do not open the link. First, consider if it’s even real. Why would anyone send you free anything? Have you ordered something? Is someone trying to steal your password?
And instead of clicking links, sign into services through their real website. And never, ever give your personal information, login credentials or banking information if someone unknown sends you an email or a message.
Check your sources: not everything online is true
During schoolwork, you will likely seek information online. But remember, not everything you find online is reliable or accurate. Just like with phishing, it's important to always question what you find. Take the time to verify your sources before accepting information as truth. Look for reputable websites, trusted experts, and cross-reference information from multiple reliable sources.
So, go ahead, explore the web – but always check your sources and never stop questioning. It can save you from embarrassing feedback from your teacher – but also from falling into online scams.
Secure your social media
Oversharing personal information can have long-term consequences. Once something is on the internet, it can be challenging to erase it completely. Unfortunately, you can never be sure online who is watching, and why.
Review and update your privacy settings on social media platforms. Make your profiles private and limit who can see your posts. Be mindful of the information you share publicly and what you post online, as these can be used to exploit your identity or even bully you. And don’t accept friend requests from strangers whose real identity or motives are unclear.
Combining security tips with a security app
Education now extends to the digital realm. By adopting these cyber security practices, you can enjoy a safer and more secure online experience throughout your school journey. Remember, much of your digital safety is in your own hands. But with these tips and an online security app, you are well-equipped to get back to school. Have a safe school year!
TalkTalk’s SuperSafe online security, protects up to 10 devices keeping all of the family’s smartphones, tablets and computers safe. Included within the SuperSafe app is a really helpful Password Manager which generates and securely stores unique passwords for you. It makes logging in to your online accounts easier, safer and faster as you can copy paste or autofill them when needed.
SuperSafe online security is just £5 per month. Once you’ve selected SuperSafe in My Account, you will receive an email from F-Secure to install the app onto your devices.
Go to My Account and add SuperSafe to your account.
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