You’re Not Pearanoid

Make Sure Your Students Know These 5 Internet Safety Tips

If you’re like me, you may consider yourself knowledgeable about the basics of internet security. You password protect online accounts, you lock or shutdown your computer before leaving it unattended, and you never enter sensitive information on insecure sites. That should suffice, right? I recently asked a few members of our Pear Deck software development team, and their answer was a resounding NO. Here’s a few key tips shared by our “expearts” to help you and your students stay safe on the web!

  1. Cover up that webcam!

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and FBI Director James Comey both cover up their laptop cameras. This quick and easy trick immediately blocks computer hackers from activating these built-in cameras and spying on you. Experts indicate that it’s relatively easy for hackers to do this, and even though the light in your camera is off, the threat could still be present. The easiest fix? Have your class cover up their cameras with a post-it or small plastic security screen.

2. Don’t use the same passwords for multiple sites!

Strong passwords are made up of a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters. Create a different password for each account, and change them frequently. This is a sentiment that should be taught early and reminded often. Keeping track of multiple passwords is no easy task, so use password management tools to make it simple for you and your students.

3. Free WiFi doesn’t always = safe.

Free wifi is always delightful, but make sure your students are aware of the connection. The things we love about free WiFi hotspots are the same things that make them desirable to hackers. Without an authentication to establish a network connection, hackers can gain access to insecure devices on the same network. However, this doesn’t mean students have to stay away from the free WiFi at their favorite study locations. For the safest option, be sure to turn off sharing from the system preferences, or let Windows turn it off for you by choosing the “Public” option the first time you connect to a new, insecure network.

4. Don’t answer that email!

Most malware attacks occur through a combination of spam and compromised web pages. With student emails, it’s important to remind not to open or respond to anything from a sender they don’t know. The same goes for downloading attachments! The National Cyber Security Alliance, recommends “When in doubt, throw it out.” (https://staysafeonline.org/stop-think-connect/)

5. Personal information should be treated like money!

Students should value and protect their personal information. It is too easy to get fooled by communications that ask you to enter information right away, so be sure to have your students always stop and think before entering their names, birthdates, or any other information.

Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust is the theme for Data Privacy Day, an international effort held on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information. (https://staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/)

Guest Blog by Danielle Stebel, Pear Deck Marketing Manager

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