Cybersecurity is present in every aspect of our lives, whether it be at home, work, school, or on the go. Regardless of one’s technical ability or background, there are simple steps everyone can take to stay safe online.
Protect your personal accounts and school account. Help to make the Internet safer and more secure by following these simple tips:
Enable stronger authentication
Authentication is how you prove your identity. It is achieved through one or more of three factors - something you know, something you have, or something you are. Typical authentication is completed with a password, or something you know. It is possible on some websites, apps, and services to enable 2-factor authentication. For instance, a website may send a txt message to your phone after you type your password. This enables a second factor - you must have your phone in order to receive the message (something you have). Other devices may enable fingerprint, faceprint, or voice scanning as a second factor (something you are). Whenever you have the ability to increase the authentication complexity, you should enable it.
Make your passwords long & strong
The best passwords contain many characters, capital letters, numbers, and special symbols. Recently, the idea of using a passphrase instead of a password has become popular and is an extremely secure method. For example, I could use the phrase "This is my Amazon password in the 10th month." as a passphrase. This passphrase is long, has capital letters, and special characters (spaces and punctuation). It's also very easy to remember. Use unique passwords (or patterns) for different accounts. In the example, you could simply change "Amazon" to "Facebook" to have a unique password for each site. So easy! Change your passwords regularly or as scheduled, especially if you believe they have been compromised.
Keep a clean and updated machine
Update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your Internet-connected devices. Keeping your security software up to date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities. At school, we make sure the computers you use are always up to date. At home, your family will have to apply updates when they are available. Be diligent!
When in doubt, throw it out
Links in email and online posts are often the way cyber-criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious delete it. Ignore bait that seems too good to be true. No one ever won a car or cruise via email. Your bank doesn't need you to verify your login credentials. People in other countries don't need your help to transfer millions of dollars to your bank account. Delete those emails or posts. Don't show them to others, don't save them, don't forward them. Just delete them. Finally, it's not a good habit to investigate these types of scams to learn more about them or expose them. Delete.
Share with care
Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely. Most websites, apps, and services have settings you can modify to prevent over sharing and exposure of sensitive data. This is especially important for teens. It's easy to remember to not post your address, social security number, or bank account numbers. But also think about posts that expose your location, your age, your agenda, your financial situation, or your mental state. All of these things can be used to identify you in real life, to mimic you online, or to pray on your perceived vulnerability.