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Staying Safe During Online Education

Chris Giles

October 2, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way students achieve their education. As more students are now studying online than ever before, living rooms, bedrooms, and patios are the new classroom. Families have rapidly added computing equipment and capacity to their homes. The shift of education to an online format brings challenges in areas of security and privacy. The cybercriminal element around the world has shifted its efforts in the attempt to exploit this online learning environment.

Students of all ages must become more aware of the need to work together with their school administrators and IT support personnel not only to fulfill one’s educational needs, but do so in a secure and safe manner.

Here are a number of tips to consider if you or someone in your household is studying remotely:

  • Consider the physical security of the home; consider locking up or otherwise storing equipment when not in use, and be careful not to leave equipment unattended when traveling.
  • When configuring home network equipment, such as routers and wireless networks, change default passwords and apply software updates. Use WPA2 or higher encryption to protect wireless access and ensure outsiders cannot join your network.
  • Use only supported operating systems and regularly install all available software updates. The automatic updates feature can help make your life easier.
  • Use antivirus software to protect against malware threats, and ensure the software receives updates.
  • Have back copies of important data in case malware does infect your device, or your system is device.
  • Always validate communications in all formats, to avoid falling for a scam. Cybercriminals often misrepresent themselves as a person in authority or an organization you trust.
  • Enable the ”Find Device” or “remote wipe” features within your device.
  • When it is time to dispose of a device because it no longer works or reaches the end of useful life, be sure the device is erased properly or destroyed to avoid sharing your information with others.
  • If coordinate remote meetings, be sure to use features which allow you to limit attendance to only those intended to participate.
  • Know who to contact when problems occur, make certain to have the phone numbers and email addresses for the school’s technical support readily available.

Successful students report the importance of thoughtfully separating time. Provide yourself with time to enjoy personal interests, then when studying, dedicate time to school work with limited distractions. This is also helpful when using technology – avoid mixing personal and school activities on the same device. In conclusion, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other scenario which may lead to students learning from home, these tips provide to the opportunity to stay safe and productive!
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