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Safe Online School: 8 Tips to Stay Secure

August 24, 2020

As students transition this year to online learning, students are putting their information at risk. Many schools have already begun their fall semester. They are quickly beginning to encounter security issues. Online schooling is forcing students to share all their information online, and this can leave them vulnerable to attacks. A safe online school experience is needed to protect students, faculty, and families. If you find this article helpful, make sure to share it with students, teachers, and neighbors to help protect them as well.

Risks of Online School

When students go back to school online this year, they’ll have to complete assignments and join classes through the internet. This can put them at risk for cyber attacks.

Back in March, when many students originally went online they were facing new security threats. Such as:

  • “Zoom bombing”, when hackers joined Zoom calls to cause harm to participants
  • Phishing, when fake emails were sent to students that contained malware
  • Unsafe social media usage that put students at risk

Without a safe online school environment students are at risk for identity theft, stolen information, and online harassment.

Tips for Parents

There are many things parents can do to help ensure the online safety of their children.

  • Check for phishing
  • Use separate devices for school
  • Update passwords and two factor authentication
  • Go through unused applications

Let’s walk through each of these safety steps.

Check for Phishing

Phishing emails can look completely normal at first glance. But taking a closer look is necessary to protect your information. Many hackers will try to send realistic looking emails to an account to trick the user into clicking on a link or a file filled with malware. For example, a hacker may send an email to your school account that looks like it is from your school district. This email might tell you to click a link to fill out a survey for the school, but this link would actually give the hacker access to your data. This article on phishing attacks explains a simple trick to detect whether an email is a phishing attack or not.

phishing emails steals information

By double checking all emails you are protecting your personal information from hackers. This cautiousness can help to create the safe online school environment your children need. Here is an article with some tips on how to spot if an email is a phishing attack.

Using Separate Devices

Another tip to keep your students safe through online school is to separate your data. This means don’t use the same device for all your tasks if possible. If all your information is on the same device, this makes it much easier for a hacker to access it all. Have your child use one specific device for their online learning, and make sure to familiarize yourself with the settings of the device. That way, if you need to control any aspect of the device, you know how to.

By separating your child’s school life from their personal life, you are making it harder for a hacker to get to any of their data. And by familiarizing yourself with the settings of their device, you can make sure the proper safety settings are on.

Another tip to stay safe on devices is to use Chromebooks or iPads if possible. These two options are generally safer than Windows or Mac counterparts. Chromebooks are the safest option as their security settings are much stricter. iPads are also safer than most alternatives. Hackers can’t get into your iPad unless they physically hack into it. Here is an article that goes a little more in depth about the safety features of each.

Update Passwords and Two Factor Authentication

Two important steps for ensuring your child’s safety are:

  • Update your account passwords
  • Turn on two factor authentication

Updating your passwords regularly is important for your security as it makes it harder for a hacker to guess your password. This is important for any accounts that may hold private information, such as your email account. Two factor authentication is also very important because it adds another layer of security that a hacker would have to get through before accessing your information.

Unused Applications

One last step you can take to ensure your child’s safe online school experience is to go through the applications on your devices and get rid of any that are not being used. By doing this, you are decreasing the risk of a hacker accessing your device through those applications. If they aren’t on your device, they can’t be used against you.

Check out these two links for other computer safety tips:

Windows: https://adeliarisk.com/5-windows-cybersecurity-tips/

Mac: https://adeliarisk.com/5-mac-cybersecurity-tips/

Safe Online School for older students

While older students should follow all of the same tips shown above, there are a few more areas that may more directly affect them.

  • Posting on social media
  • Receiving strange messages
  • Constant attention to devices

Older students need to be cautious when it comes to posting on social media. Anyone could potentially have access to what students are posting, and that can be dangerous to their online security. Students need to consider who can see what they’re posting, and how it could harm other students or themselves. For example, posting any information about your school, or its online curriculum.

Students with an online presence are also at risk of receiving  strange or inappropriate messages online. If any messages are deemed as inappropriate they should be reported to  parents or teachers, who can handle the situation. Here is an article with some tips on how to stay safe on social media.

Online schooling is also presenting another issue to students, spending the whole day on a device. Students need a way to separate themselves from their devices when they are not needed for school. They need to be able to take breaks between classes or after school.

These unique issues are easily avoidable and if needed, can be solved with the help of an adult.

Safe Online School for younger students

Many of these tips for younger students are more for parents to monitor their child’s safety. Parents should make sure that they can keep track of the activities of their younger children. To do this, parents should have their children working within earshot. This allows parents to listen in on their child's schooling and listen for anything that may seem off.

Safe online school with young students

Younger children also need frequent breaks from their devices, and parents can enforce this with apps that limit screen time. This page has a list of apps that can limit screen time, and block inappropriate content from reaching their children.

Inappropriate content is another issue young children may face during online school. Parents should do their best to watch what their child is doing on their device. They should also teach them when a message or piece of information is inappropriate so it can be reported.

Conclusion

Online schooling presents unique challenges and safety issues for all. With a little extra time and work put in, parents and students can work to protect themselves from hackers. They can create a safe online school environment for all students this year.

Want to protect your child from hackers this school year? Want to make sure all your child's information is protected? Talk with an Adelia Risk consultant to learn more.

Have any further questions or feedback? Please share them in the comments below!

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