The need for a means to communicate and interact with the outside world is especially apparent during this time of need. As COVID-19 remains a severe threat to public health and safety, the vast majority of students and schools have turned to the internet to allow them to further their education.
However, this is not without a few challenges. Because the majority of people are reliant on the internet for information, business, and shopping, it has become an especially attractive place for cybercriminals to conduct their activities. It’s situations like these when a lifeline to the outside world also becomes a means to harm others.
So, with this in mind, what are some ways that students can protect themselves as we shift to an online education model?
Use antivirus software
These programs are always the first line of defense in most consumer-grade computers. They come with an array of features that helps prevent your system from downloading or executing malicious programs. The best part about antivirus software is that many of them are free, and Windows 10 also comes with a built-in firewall.
Never Share Sensitive Information Online
The danger with a massive shift to online learning is that many people who are inexperienced with the internet are forced to learn very quickly. This leaves them vulnerable to cybercriminals who are likely to use social engineering techniques in order to gain the trust of victims. As a general rule, never share information such as bank or credit card information, Social security numbers, and even login details. Remember that cybersecurity is like a glass window. Even the smallest chip can affect the integrity of the glass.
Update social media privacy settings
Social media platforms are not just fun to use, but they’re also incredibly useful. However, these platforms essentially become a grapevine of private information that cyber criminals can pick from if users aren’t careful. It’s important to review your privacy settings to ensure that you aren’t sharing private information such as your personal phone number, your birthday, your email addresses, and your relationships. These little bits of data can be used to guess your login details.
Use a VPN
Another danger that students face as they study online is that the data they send and receive can be intercepted. Not all conference programs come with data encryption, thus it’s important to use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure that your online activities cannot be traced. While it’s easy to get confused between the many VPNs that are available on the internet, there are many online resources such as invpn.com that help make it easier to determine which VPN provider suits your needs best.
As we soldier on through the pandemic, we should never forget the importance of vigilance and common sense, especially during uncertain times. Make sure you protect your privacy.