Back to school, 5 cybersecurity tips for students

Mid-September is the return to school period, on different days depending on the region, starting on Monday 12th. And more than ever in this period, after two years of pandemic, lockdown, quarantines and distance learning, cybersecurity is also important for students and female students. And for their teachers.

According to Check Point Software Technologiesan Israeli company that deals with cybersecurity, “the Education sector (which in English does not mean education but education, ed) has registered the highest volume of monthly attacksin 2022 and 2021, globally “, so much so that last July” it suffered almost 2 thousand weekly attacks per organization, more than double the average of the other sectors, with an increase of 6% compared to July 2021 and 114 % compared to July 2020 “. In Italy it is not better: in our country, in the education sector there have been “almost 3 thousand weekly attacks in the last 6 months”, more than in the software or military and governmental fields.

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The 5 tips for online safety for students

This is precisely why Check Point has prepared a list of tips for boys and girls so they can go back to school without falling victim to cybercriminals. They are all common sense indications (and they also apply to adults), but it is worth repeating because they are often forgotten.

Think before clicking on a link
Phishing attacks, in which criminals pretend to be famous companies to try to steal personal data, are increasingly common, especially now that devices store a large amount of information – special attention must be paid to addresses sent via SMS, messaging apps such as WhatsApp or via email, because they can be dangerous. It is always better to go to the (alleged) sender’s website, instead of clicking on the link contained in the message.

Use a different password for everything
True: having to think of a different password for the platforms you use every day can be tiring, difficult to remember and it would be much easier to use the same one for all. But there is no better thing for a cybercriminal than to run into such a user: people who rely on a single password could have all accounts hacked very quickly, because once a hacker manages to crack the combination of the first platform, it will try to log into all accounts with the same password. It’s always best to create a unique password for each app or service, of at least 8 characters and combining letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Then you can use password managers to store them securely.

Avoid downloading attachments from unknown senders
An email attachment from an unknown sender can be a gateway to all types of cyber attacks, such as malware or phishing, capable of infecting the entire device and stealing all information and data stored in it. Also, the device is used for distance learning or is connected to a larger network, it could cause more serious and extensive damage.

Never access unsecured public wifi
It should be remembered that anyone (therefore, even a criminal) can connect to an unsecured public wifi: being on the same network, the criminals they can access everything stored on connected devices. Connecting to a public network always involves a risk, so better think about it before activating it.

Do not browse unencrypted sites
It is essential to make sure that the site being accessed has an SSL certificate, which ensures that the Internet connection is encrypted and protects any sensitive information sent between two systems, preventing cybercriminals from viewing and modifying transferred data, including what might be considered personal. It’s easy to spot this by looking at the start of the address line, which should show a letter s after the initials http. Better to click only when you see it httpshaving the confirmation that the site is really authentic.

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The risk of human error

The point is that the pandemic has led to many changes in the world of education, allowing much easier access to school systems, but it is the same that can allow hackers to infiltrate school networks: just have a teacher, student or parent click on a phishing email to suffer a ransomware attack. Which could also lead to the closure of a school for days or weeks, with consequent loss of class days and additional costs.

Pierluigi Torriani, security engineering manager of Check Point Software, recalled that “unfortunately many students are not yet aware that they can be targeted by cybercriminals, nor do they know how to protect themselves: for most cyberattacks, human error plays a significant role and students must beware of all emails and sites that may be strange. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that, wherever you are studying, you have a secure connection and adequate security software. And not just on the computer ”.

Back to school, 5 cybersecurity tips for students