Back-To-School Tips for Online Safety

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You’ve seen them on TV, the back-to-school ads are full throttle as the summer months turn to fall.

Soon, children around the world will be starting a new year of classes. This means shopping online for new clothes, school supplies, and connecting on social media with classmates. While this can be fun, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Digital attackers have been after people’s information since the internet was invented. Tricking children is one of the easiest ways to get quick access to banking credentials and other personal information. It’s up to parents, teachers and all those who are tech-savvy to share their knowledge and help children protect themselves online.

Here are some helpful tips to keep kids safe online.

1.       MANAGE YOUR PASSWORDS

When returning to school and establishing online accounts, it’s best to protect yourself online with password managers. Using a reputable password manager and different passwords for every account will keep your account safe and let you remember and keep all your passwords in one place. Most importantly, never share access to accounts with anyone. Keeping your identity safe should be the number 1 priority.

2.       BUY CAUTIOUSLY

If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Buying clothes or books online can be scams and are used to prey on young people. Attackers will even set up fake shipping addresses to lure potential victims into a sense of security. Be cautious online to avoid these phishing scams.

3.       ONLINE GROUND RULES

Hundreds of thousands of children will log onto social media accounts for the first time this year, and it’s important for parents to lay down ground rules for basic safety. These include:

-          Don’t share personal information on social media
-          Be careful what is visible in photos (like ID cards or driver’s licenses)
-          Turn off location services when you don’t need them.

4.       KEEP FRIENDS REAL

Staying in touch with classmates when you’re not face to face is a norm now. This includes phone numbers and social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. It may be hard, but avoiding the temptation of building a large friend group of people you may not even know now will help a lot in the long run. Strangers will always try and add you on social media, but by either ignoring them or blocking them, it can save you a lot of strife in the future if they send you inappropriate content.

5.       SECURE YOUR NETWORK

Homework on-the-go may seem like the perfect solution to a work-life balance. But connecting to Wi-fi in public places could mean that anything you do can be seen by anyone with a connection. It’s best to keep off of sensitive sites like bank accounts until you get home or onto a secure server. Remember, always look a green lock or https in front of the URL instead of http to indicate a secure website.

6.       ENCRYPT YOUR DEVICES

It is a fact that every day $7 million is lost a day in cellular phones. That amount of data is staggering and is all in jeopardy of being compromised. Students need to enable encryption on their mobile devices. On Apple, simply adding a passcode enables the encryption, while on Android, it is also simple to set up.

7.       COLLABORATE SAFELY

Being able to collaborate with students through technology is great, but making sure it’s done safely is important. Accidentally spreading malware can be as simple as plugging in a friend’s USB or opening an email. Try using collaboration services like Google Docs or Microsoft 365. These services are safe and effective for collaborating since you never directly share anything.

8.       VALIDATE YOUR SOFTWARE

Use sites like www.urlquery.net and www.virustotal.com to verify sites and downloads before using them. This can save you a lot of time and hassle.

9.       COMMUNICATION IS KEY

While parental controls can play a vital part, it’s important to have an open communication with your children about what they are doing online. Kids should feel like they are allowed to talk openly about their use of technology to adults they can trust. Adults, in turn, should be able to advise children on how to use the internet to the fullest and safest potential.

10.   REPORT ONLINE ABUSE

Cyberbullying is a major issue. If you see something, say something. It can help immensely. The best thing to do is to talk to a trusted adult and let them handle the situation at hand. In online chatrooms, especially ones for teens, there can be dangerous people. If something looks suspicious, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

OVERALL: Be safe, stay cautious

If something looks suspicious, a quick Google search will always help. The internet is a great tool with endless resources, but is also filled with dangers. Knowing how to navigate safely will help throughout your life.

(Story via Tripwire)