With children and young adults going back to school shortly, many parents are going to be concerned about their child’s vulnerability to risks of using the Internet to keep in touch with school friends and people back home.
If you have a student at home who’s about to be using the Internet a lot more when they go back to school, please tell them to be careful, and, if possible, show them this list:
- Make sure you understand the Acceptable Computer and Network Usage Policies of the institution. If you violate them, you may lose Internet access, which for some students can mean failing the term.
- Make sure you have a software firewall and up to date, reputable anti-virus software on all computers that are connecting to the Internet. Anti-virus suites with anti-phishing and anti-spyware can also reduce the risks.
- Don’t accept social networking invitations (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) from people you don’t know. The number of imposters and scammers is growing – almost faster than these sites can shut them down.
- Don’t click on links or accept new Facebook applications if you don’t need to. There’s a growing list of dangerous applications and sites that may be more dangerous than they appear.
- Don’t post “Too Much Information” about yourself. You don’t know who might be watching or waiting for you to announce something that gives them a cue that they can act on against you. Don’t tell the world where you’re going and when, just because you can.
- Use different, strong passwords for Internet accounts, and consider using a free password manager program that uses a single password to protect passwords for all your accounts.
- Report illegal or suspicious computer activity to the institution or Internet Service provider immediately to protect yourself and your friends from becoming victims of hackers.
- Back up your assignments and work in multiple places as often as you can, and keep them safe from being stolen.
- Consider using a full-disk encryption program on your laptop if it has confidential information on it that you wouldn’t want to be printed in the newspapers.
- Don’t plug other peoples’ USB Flash drives into your computer. They can be infected with viruses that your computer’s anti-virus software may not catch. Always try to use your own USB drive, don’t plug it into a computer that doesn’t have any anti-virus software on it, and keep as little important data on it as you need to.
Ken Knapton has also published a book on Cyber Safety for families with kids. While I haven’t read it yet, I have been following Ken’s updates on Twitter with tips from the book, and I try to “retweet” them all. Although many of the tips are for parents trying to keep their families safe, I suspect there are some good tips for college students, too. The book is getting good reviews on his Facebook page.
There will always be risks on the Internet that our children will have to learn about sooner or later. But let’s hope they don’t have to learn the worst lessons from experience.
The sooner they learn how to use the Internet responsibly, the more comfortable they will be in a work environment where they can contribute to a culture of information security.
I am now offering monthly briefings, tailored to organizations that want to build and sustain security awareness for staff. Just because your security team is too busy to do its own training and awareness doesn’t mean you can’t have an economical way to address human security risks. Please call or email me at the coordinates below…
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