High School Kit: More Independence Online
You’re learning how to drive, looking into potential colleges, getting your first “real” girlfriend or boyfriend, going to dances, parties, making new friends and having fun! With all of this newfound independence comes amazing new adventures and experiences in your life. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement, but, along with all of your academic studies and extra curricular activities, an education in cyber security can help keep you safe while you keep exploring.
Do’s and Don’ts of Cyber Security
Phishing is a con game that takes place online, and phishers are just tech-savvy con artists. Their tactics are low-tech, like spam emails that can contain links to malicious websites, or attachments that carry hidden malware. Phishers will pretend to be authentic companies, and use spam email to request personal information.
If you receive a suspicious email, DON’T click on any links or download attachments. Instead, DO go directly to the website in question by typing it in the address bar of your browser.
Surely, you have heard about things like viruses and malware constantly, but what are they exactly? Malware is any computer program that is malicious in nature. These programs can sneak their way onto your computer in many different ways, and once on there, they can nab personal information, gobble up term papers or wipe out those fantastic photos from spring break.
In order to help combat malware, DO install Internet security software on your devices, and DON’T fall victim to phishing emails and other online scams.
Certainly at this point in your life, you have encountered cyberbullying, or know someone who has. It’s not okay, and it can happen in many different ways, such as a mean text message defaming your character, rumors or compromising photos spread on social media sites, and even someone posting your personal information online. If you come across a cyberbully, first thing’s first- DON’T reply to the sender.
If you can, DO try to save the messages by taking screenshots of them or printing the messages, in order to report any bullying that occurs electronically. Use this information to report cyberbullying to parents, teachers, web and cell phone service providers.
Data Privacy Online
With the boom of social media, online dating, chatting, texting and personal blogging, it can be a lot of fun to share with your friends what you’re doing, where you are and even what you’re eating. However, it is important to realize that sharing this type of personal information with people you see as "friends" online should be done with caution. On the Internet, not everyone is who they seem to be, so it is important that you DO only share these types of updates with people you know in real life.
Social Media and Digital Footprints
Sure, that party last weekend was pretty epic, and there are the photos to prove it, but when it comes to social media, common sense is your BFF. Post only what you would feel comfortable with the whole world seeing, including parents, future employers or college administrators. Most colleges and companies are getting hip to what information can be found on public social media pages, and will do a search for potential candidates online. These organizations will then make their decision on accepting you based on what is found there. Remember that no matter what you delete online never actually goes away, no matter what you do with it. Yes, even on Snapchat.
DO tighten social media security by checking the security or privacy settings on each account. Most sites will allow you to control who sees your posts, and if not, they at least have the option for you to make your account private.
Of course, a large component of social media is making new connections. However, DON’T meet someone in real life that you have only talked to online, unless another friend of yours verifies their identity. They could be pretending to be someone else, otherwise known as “catfishing”.
There are other risks on social media as well, other than what you post. A lot of scammers are targeting social media with their scams. When people see something posted by a friend, a lot of people will assume that it is legitimate. However, scammers will try to hack an account to gain access to the users’ contacts to further spread their scams. Scammers will try to trick you into clicking on bad links by posting sensational breaking news stories; luring their victims by offering free products or offer prizes if you complete a “quick” survey. While the surveys may not host malicious links themselves, they are actually a ploy to gather your personal information. So, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, unfortunately.
Strong Passwords and Secure Accounts
Cybercriminals love to go after user credentials such as usernames and passwords, so it is important that you DO use strong, secure passwords on all of your accounts. A secure password is no less than eight characters, a random combination of upper and lowercase text, numbers and symbols (and possibly Emojis in the future!). DON’T use any words that can be found in the dictionary, as the programs hackers use to crack passwords look for full words.
To really lock down your online accounts, DO use two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available. 2FA is a method of verifying your identity that adds an extra layer of security to your account.
Computer Security 101
Luckily, there are other tools available to help keep you safe other than just “web smarts.”
DO update your computer’s software programs whenever there are updates available. It’s SO easy to click on that “remind me later” button when that pesky dialogue box pops up, because you’re probably deeply involved in something else or just don’t feel like dealing with it at the moment. But really, there’s never an ideal time to install these updates if you’re actively working on your computer, so just save your work and update that software! These updates offer patches that will fix any security vulnerabilities that hackers look to exploit in order to gain access to your computer.
We can be as smart as Elon Musk about computers, but that’s just not enough. Due to the countless threats on the Internet landscape, no device that connects to the Internet should go without Internet security software, such as Norton Security. These programs have a multitude of features that can help protect you from risks you may not be aware of online. As you know, knowledge is power, but defense against cyber threats is a two-part process made up of knowledge on your end, and a good cyber security program that can catch the threats that fall through the cracks.
Mobile Security 101
iPhones, Androids and apps, oh my! That little phone in your pocket is much more than just a telephone. We now do just about everything we can do on a computer on our mobile phones. As a result, scammers and hackers have taken notice and have extended their reach to our smartphones and tablets. There are just as many threats and scams on the mobile landscape as there are for computers.
There’s an unfathomable amount of apps out there that can do just about everything under the sun, short of your homework (wouldn’t that be nice, though?). Subsequently, the mobile app marketplace can contain hidden dangers- apps laden with hidden malware can resemble legitimate apps such as games, instant messaging and even antivirus software.
DO know how to spot a fake app, and use security software on your phone that has technology like, Norton Mobile Insight, which can actually scan an app in the app store for malicious or annoying behaviors before you even download the app.
There’s no better time in your life than right now, especially in the era that we live in today. There is an abundance of technology that can help you along with your studies, responsibilities and adventures. Now that you are poised to go forth and conquer your world, you can safely share your adventures with your friends, family and loved ones.
Have children in other grades? Check out the rest of our back to school series: