Students are returning to school all across the country, and while it can be an exciting time, they must be reminded of the possible risks of using laptops, tablets and smartphones. These devices are all commonly used in learning environments, but there are dangers to having constant online access.
The most common goal of a cyberattack is to obtain valuable information that will result in financial gain. By some estimates, between 2016 and 2019, there were more than 1,200 reported business email compromise fraud cases in Canada, resulting in losses of more than $45 million CAD. While students probably aren’t as much of a target as large corporations, they can still be victims of cyberattacks.
To better prevent cyberattacks, students should:
- Use different passwords: Make sure different passwords are being used for different accounts and devices. It is highly encouraged that strong passwords be used, as well as two-factor authentication when available.
- Be cautious about apps that are downloaded from app stores: Just because an app is available via Apple app store or Google play doesn’t mean that it is 100% safe. There are apps that get developed that are used to steal information from the phone users without them even knowing it. Only download apps that are from known developers and also check what permissions you allow the application to have on your device. Ask yourself if the permissions the app is seeking make sense.
- Avoid phishing scams: Teach students how to watch for phishing scams in their email inbox and social media messages. They should not click on any links from contacts that they don’t know or has a suspicious message, even if it looks like it is from a friend or teacher. Always double-check that a contact is legitimate, especially if they are asking for personal information or payments of any kind.
- Keep programs and operating systems up to date: Operating system and program updates provide devices with the latest security upgrades. These updates make it harder for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.