School is back in session. This means stocking up on school supplies, ensuring your child has everything they need for the semester, or perhaps seeing them travel off to college for the first time. However, it also means that it’s time to look at how secure your online activities are during this hectic period.

Cyber-attacks have no holidays and no off-season. They can occur at any time. Today we are going to share with you 10 steps that you can take to improve cybersecurity with your children during the back-to-school season.

  1. Watch what you share on social media. Make sure that your children understand the importance of anonymity on social media and avoid sharing personal addresses, phone numbers, location whereabouts, and any sensitive info that may be in the photos they post. You can even completely lock location services out of their device if you need to.
  2. Keep a close eye out for phishing attacks. You and your son or daughter should be aware of sales and offers that appear to be too good to be true, which can lead to adware installed on their computer, fake websites made to steal their information, or malicious links sent to them by email. And watch the sites where you are browsing! If you do not see a green secure lock or https:// in the address bar, it may be wise to close out of your browser.
  3. Public Wi-Fi and USB charging spots can be more dangerous than convenient. Try to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots as they can have major security holes that a hacker could exploit and access your public information. Be wary of accessing any website that requires entering login credentials such as banking sites and social media when connected to an open Wi-Fi connection. If you or your children have mobile hotspots on their phones, that may be a more secure connection, but be mindful of the potential monthly data limits. A newer threat also lies within public USB charging spots that hackers can use to hijack into your device and steal your data. Use your own wall charger or portable battery charging device when you are out on the go.
  4. Consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. Delving further into Wi-Fi security, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is another solution to achieving online anonymity as it gives you a greater level of security by blocking intruders from your location and browsing history. VPNs are not foolproof though, so we still recommend monitoring your online activity and avoiding sharing a public Wi-Fi spot.
  5. Lock Down Your Login. What happens if you walk away from your device while you are using it? It’s an easy mistake, but a few seconds is all an intruder needs to capture your sensitive information. Public computers, especially in college labs or libraries, can be an easy target if you walk off to pick up something from the printer. There’s a quick and easy hotkey sequence to lock your computer if you need to step away and keep the hackers at bay:
    • For Windows PCs: Windows Key + L
    • For Mac Devices: Control + Command + Q

The few seconds it takes to routinely execute those commands could save your data. Also, making sure that your mobile devices have privacy locks and low screen idle time is an excellent way to stay safe as well.

  1. Practicing Password safety. Ensure that you and your children understand how important it is to have unique logins for every device and every sign-on you make. Don’t just stop there. Make sure their passwords are complex, utilizing capital letters, numbers, symbols, etc., ones that cannot be easily guessed or tripped up by a hacker’s brute force attempt to get into your machine. If this is a daunting method, there are password managers you can use to retain your passwords and retrieve them with one login. Many of these are free but be sure to research your options before enlisting in one.
  2. Using Multi-Factor Authentication. In the case of signing in to websites on public or shared computers, using Multi-Factor Authentication is highly recommended. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the most well-known type, which will send a unique login code to a mobile device when anyone tries to access your account. It also is quite useful if your child happens to lose their device.
  3. Ensuring "Find My Device" is turned on. In the instance where your phone may be lost, stolen, or even worse, compromised, having the “Find My Device” feature enabled can be a huge help in relocating and securing your device. Not only that, in the case of iOS devices, if the “Find My iPhone” is enabled and set up on the device, if someone steals your phone and attempts to wipe it, they cannot without the login credentials or will wipe the device after multiple login failures. With this enabled, you can also remotely wipe your device should it fall into the wrong hands.
  4. Using Cloud-based efforts instead of USB Drives. USB Flash drives can be a hive for malware or viruses without you even realizing it. If a student is in a group and they are swapping around a portable storage device and one of the computers it connects to or the drive itself has a malicious threat on it, it could infect all of them. If you have the ability, consider using collaborative cloud-based efforts such as Microsoft Office 365 for sharing and working on group projects together so the risk of an infection is neutralized. Not to mention, USB drives can also be lost or stolen, putting not only their school work at risk but their private data as well.
  5. Keeping your device software up to date. Making sure your and your children’s devices have the most recent software revision is highly important as there tends to be major security updates in those patches. For example, the most recent iOS update resolves a major security hole in iMessage and the most recent Windows OS update resolves a potential attack called “SWAPGS” that can be severe as major attacks Spectre and Meltdown. Staying up to date with your apps on your smartphone is highly important as well. Unless otherwise noted by your IT manager, do not delay major software updates on your device.

Whether you’re going back to school or taking in the new season at your office, neoRhino is here to ensure that you and your business are protected and performing at the optimum level. Fill out the form below to learn more about neoRhino’s business IT and security abilities and receive a FREE Slide-and-Hide Webcam cover! Keep intruders from being able to spy on you with this easy-to use privacy cover for your webcam.

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Stay vigilant! For more information on how to protect yourself from a cyber-attack, visit our War on Cybersecurity page.