The recent global events – the pandemic and its consequences - have forced pretty much the entire academic field to relocate to the online environment. Students all over the world now study online, from the comfort of their home.
Naturally, at the moment, both students and teachers prefer remote studying. However, when it comes to security and privacy, things are not as easy as they were back in schools, universities, and other establishments.
Students can unknowingly share data they are not supposed to with hackers and cybercriminals. On the other hand, teachers and officials have to share data with students. All this sums up to one issue; knowing how to protect the channel through which the data is sent!
Encryption Using a VPN
Most connections and networks that you use to connect to the internet are not encrypted. This means that the data and information that you receive and send can be easily seen and even stolen by hackers.
The main result is the students’ loss of privacy. Not only can their data be seen by hackers, but the latter may also gain access to their microphone and camera. Moreover, if the student has a direct connection with a university database, that database may be equally in danger.
The majority of online security issues can be easily solved by installing VPN software. A VPN can be used by converting a public network into a private one through encryption of your data. In short, a VPN can help students encrypt their connection at home, protecting their online activity and sensitive data from being spied on by cybercriminals.
Improving Your Passwords
Depending on preferences, your teachers may ask you to use a plethora of platforms and online services that entail creating an account. If you have to buy textbooks, for example, you may also have to input your card details. As such, easy-to-hack and straightforward passwords will affect your personal data.
You will not only be locked out of your study-related platforms, but you also risk hackers buying things in your name, using an account where you stored your card details. All of this can be easily avoided with a bit of basic password etiquette.
For starters, you shouldn’t use the same password for different platforms, especially if you connect to those by e-mail. If your e-mail is hacked, everything else gets compromised as well. Additionally, you should also include upper case letters, special characters, and numbers in passwords.
Update Your Antivirus/Firewall Regularly
Antivirus software protects us from all kinds of bad stuff on the internet. However, it does so only when we feed it with information about the latest viruses, so to say. This means that, if an antivirus doesn’t know a virus, it will let it enter and roam your PC.
The lack of updates can make you the victim of the most straightforward and basic phishing scams and malware. This can result in hacked e-mails, accounts, and even stolen private data.
The best and only thing you should do to avoid this is to update your security software regularly. If you do so, your antivirus will go as far as denying you access to websites that may be hosting malware or phishing scams.
Look Twice at the Website URL
Over the years, website URLs have gotten fancier and fancier. Still, this doesn’t mean that we should trust all websites. Reputable and trusty platforms can have duplicates of themselves on the web. Most of the time, when you come across a duplicate website and login with your info, you will lose your account among multiple other consequences.
This is why most, if not all browsers, display the level of security a domain/URL has. This information is indicated via the icons near the URL, usually through a lock icon. The final part of the URL should also be checked. For instance, official websites and sources/resources will almost always end with .com and rarely with .io.
Before connecting to an account or making a transaction (monetary or informational), make sure to check the URL you’re on twice.
Verify E-mails when Unsure
The greatest threat to personal information and data is, ultimately, the end-user; in our case, the student. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many video conferences have been bombed by hackers that managed to get their hands on invitations privately sent to students. This happened mostly because some students clicked on a phishing e-mail they received.
To avoid such data breaches, you must avoid opening e-mails from unknown contacts. For instance, if you receive a suspicious e-mail that you think was sent by a teacher, it is better if you check with them before actually opening it.
The Bottom Line
Studying at home is not as simple as browsing on YouTube and watching Netflix, so to say. Your personal computer will receive and send much more data and information – not only because of studying but also because you have to spend more time indoors.
As such, it is highly recommended that you do your best to prevent cybercriminals from accessing your computer or any personal information of yours!
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