In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students, and their families, have had to switch from traditional, in-person classrooms to remote learning.
As instrumental as technology has been in making the school year possible, however, online learning comes with a unique risk: cyber hackers.
If you’re a student or the parent of a student who’s getting ready to start their next semester of high school or college online, here’s what you need to know about staying safe while learning online.
What Are Cyber Hackers?
As the name suggests, cyber hackers are people who exploit computers or web-based vulnerabilities in order to gain unauthorized access to data. These exploits, or online attacks, range from phishing, ransomware, trojan viruses, spyware, and DDOS attacks, to what’s commonly known as “Zoombombing”.
3 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Cyber Hackers
It’s easy to feel like cyber hackers, with their advanced computer skills, are impossible to defend against. But with the help of these three tips, there are steps you can take to tighten your cybersecurity.
1. Be Cautious About Links and Attachments Sent Over Email
Phishing scams and viruses often arrive in email inboxes disguised as trusted entities.
You might think that you’re getting a message from your bank or your school, but instead the email is actually the result of a cyber hacker attempting to steal your login information or trick you into downloading a virus on to your computer.
With suspicious emails, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you see a message that seems important, access your account in a seperate tab or verify with your school that the email you’ve received is legitimate. It’s a small step that could save you from a world of hurt.
2. Download the Latest Software Versions
Another tactic that’s often used by cyber hackers is that of simply finding security flaws in older versions of software and then gaining access to your information from there.
Newer versions of commonly-used software will often include improvements to previous security flaws. That’s why a laptop or computer with fully up-to-date software is another way to defend yourself against cyber hacking attempts.
3. Use Strong Passwords
Sometimes cyber hackers take over accounts by simply guessing the right password.
To that end, while passwords like “12345” or “ABCD” may be convenient and easy to remember, they’re also the types of passwords that a cyber hacker can guess in an instant.
That’s why you often see cybersecurity experts recommending that you change your passwords often and use passwords that are considered “strong”. It gives you yet another line of defense against people who are seeking your personal information without your consent.
The transition from in-person classrooms to remote learning has left many students and parents struggling to figure out how to prepare. But as it turns out, the best way to protect yourself while learning online is to exercise caution from the beginning.