The start of a new school year is the perfect time for a web security refresh. As your students begin using computers – both at school and at home for homework assignments and schoolwork – there are important security steps to keep in mind to ensure safe use of the Internet. Here are a few web security reminders to help keep your student’s computer secure this school year:
Protect Your Passwords
One of the most critical web security tips for students is to be careful when sharing passwords with friends and classmates. Sharing Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc., passwords with friends may not seem like a security threat because you trust them; however, there is always a risk that your personal information could fall into the hands of the wrong person. It is also important to store your password information in a safe place where others will not be able to easily find it.
Protecting your passwords isn’t limited to social media alone. Students should also be mindful of protecting passwords for logging onto their computers. If another person has immediate and constant access to your computer, files could accidentally (or even intentionally) go missing, get deleted, or changed – and students could lose an important piece of work they need for school. Even worse, if your password information is saved somewhere on your computer, someone else could have access to everything: social media, bank accounts, school information, etc. Change your passwords often and don’t share them with anyone.
Pick an Impenetrable Password
It is important to change your passwords several times a year for security reasons. However, it is also important to select a password that would be difficult for others to guess. When selecting a password, choose something you will remember, but stay away from obvious terms others could easily guess, such as your name, address, or your pets’ names. If including a number at the end of your password, do not use only one number, as this is too easy of a combination for a potential hacker to guess.
Here is a list of the 25 least secure passwords used by Internet users in 2013. Unsurprisingly, “Password” and “123456” topped the list as the most common passwords. Students (and their parents) should keep this list in mind when creating their next set of passwords.
Clear Your Cookies
Students who are regularly using the Internet should frequently clear the cookies and temporary files from their computers. Cookies are small files that store data about an Internet user on that computer. Cookies tell web servers how often how you visit certain web sites, and your activities on these pages. Cookies aren’t harmful, but they can slow down your computer, so students should clear them from web browsers often.
Practice Caution with Pop Up Ads
Pop up ads that appear on your screen when browsing the web can be useful when shown to you by legitimate advertisers with products and information you may be interested in. However, pop up ads can also include security threats by linking to viruses, unauthorized downloads or malware. Pop ups containing malicious information can slow your computer and cause additional security concerns. Most web browsers offer a pop up blocking option to help protect users from unnecessary pop ups.
Protect Yourself from Phishing
If you are unsure where an email or file came from, avoid opening it before confirming its security from the sender, as unrecognizable files and emails could contain a virus harmful to your computer. These malicious files or emails could bring you to a website built by phishers. Phishing is when fake websites are set up to look and feel just like real websites, trying to mislead you into sharing your personal information, giving hackers access to your system, files and even your identity. Combat would-be hackers by only opening email attachments from senders you trust.
With these web safety tips from Frontier, you and your students won’t need to worry about web security this school year, leaving more time to focus on homework instead!