Back to school is here. Out with lazy days at the pool and in with homework, music lessons, soccer practice, after-school clubs, science projects, math tutoring and a million other things that demand attention. While plunging back into the school routine, it is easy to forget about keeping your devices safe.
Getting Ready to Go:
Avoid mayhem by taking a few simple cyber safety steps before you head out to work or school. The goal is to prepare your devices for the work or school, without the risk of them being used against you.
- Keep a clean machine: Make sure all security and critical software is up to date. These protections are your best line of defense against viruses and malware.
- Password protect: Use a passcode or security feature like a finger swipe pattern or fingerprint to lock your mobile device. Also set your screen to lock after a short period of time by default. If you do choose to use a finger swipe, make sure it has at least one turn (preferably two) and that a pin code has at least 6 numbers!
- Think before you use that app: New apps are tempting! It is important to always download new apps from only trusted sources like the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Also, limiting an app’s access to services on your device, like location is a good idea. A tough sell for teens, but definitely worth considering.
- Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on social media accounts, web services, and devices. It is okay to limit how and with whom you share information.
While on the Go:
Sitting at soccer practice for hours on end can be boring. Borrowing a Wi-Fi connection seems like a harmless solution, but it is important to keep safety in mind.
- Get savvy about what you do on other peoples’ Wi-Fi and systems: Do not transmit personal info or make purchases on unsecure or public networks. Instead, use your phone carrier internet service for these needs. For laptops/tablets, it is easy to use your phone as a personal hotspot to surf more securely using carrier data.
- Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when idle: When Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are on, it is possible to track your location. Only enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when required and disable your Wi-Fi auto-connect features.
- Protect your $$$:Be sure to shop or bank only on secure sites. Web addresses with ‘https://’ and a lock icon indicate that the website takes extra security measures.
- Keep an eye on your devices: It seems like a no-brainer, but laptops, smartphones, and tablets are all portable and convenient, making them perfect for a thief to carry away! Keep your devices close to you. A common scam consists of a stranger distracting you and placing a map or newspaper over your device and walking away with it when finished talking.
To learn more about staying cyber safe, head to the MS-ISAC’s Security Primer covering this topic. For more information on NCSA, including countless resources on staying cyber secure, please visit staysafeonline.org.