How to Be Cyber-Secure When Learning through Online Schools
Learning is an essential part of growing as a person. From students in school to career training, it’s important to continue to build your knowledge and skills. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, in-person learning has become impossible. When considered, this has wiped out many types of self-advancement. Classrooms, symposiums, and conventions are all canceled for the foreseeable. Mentorships and workshops hold an element of risk as well.
With so many people working at home to help contain the spread, we’re all looking toward online learning right now. Online schools provide an organized platform for e-learning and a curriculum of videos to choose from. When seeking learning opportunities online, remember that any surge of internet activity will also draw unwanted attention. Not all online schools are legitimate, and even legit schools can sometimes carry infected files hidden in lesson material.
Today, we’re here to provide some easy-to-follow tips for keeping yourself and your computer safe when learning through the many online schools on the web. Whether you are learning on your own steam or through an employer-endorsed platform, be sure to take measures to guard yourself from hackers and data theft.
Choose Your Learning Provider Carefully
There are some great online schools available. The best schools to subscribe to will be based on the subject, the depth of content, and the web platform quality. You should absolutely compare and contrast curriculums before choosing your favorites. But remember, not all websites are what they seem. This includes online schools.
Lately, hackers have been imitating online schools and lessons to ‘catch’ the wave of at-home students looking for online learning. Watch out for false providers, trap websites, and shallow-content scams. In other words, choose your learning provider wisely. The further points will highlight why.
Don’t Get Phished by Hackers Posing as Schools
The lockdown pushed millions of students and even more professionals to at-home activities. This surge in at-home online activity has drawn hackers who will imitate anything that gets clicks. There are many online schools or lessons that were placed as traps of various types. Some are planted to spread malware. Some are designed to invade your computer through permissions. Some are designed to harvest personal information.
In addition, traditional phishing –emails and messages about free/discounted online learning opportunities– are also being used to phish remote students of all stripes. Be as wary as usual about not clicking attachments, sharing personal information, or paying too hastily before doing the research.
Be Aware of the Permissions You Give
It’s unfortunately easy to quick-accept all the permissions an app wants on your phone. But is it wise? Permissions give apps access to all sorts of things. Often, if you think about it, the specific permissions requested make sense. So watch out when they don’t. Is an app asking for more permissions than the features should need? That’s a good reason to be suspicious. Hackers can sneak access to your files and information, downloads, contacts, and other apps through that quick permissions-confirmation. Be aware of what permissions are asked, and which apps have extensive granted permissions.
Enter Fake Personal Information in Lesson Practices
When running through lesson practices, it’s common to use personal information. This is an old teaching method from long before digital identity theft or e-learning existed. It’s common, for example, to be prompted to use your name, your city, and your favorite things as example-content for lessons. You might be constructing basic phrases in a new language or filling a test-database with some test-data.
When prompted for personal information, don’t enter it. For obvious reasons, this is risky. Hackers might access good-intentioned schools to collect student personal information. Or they might offer beginner-lessons just to trick students into providing this info.
Invent a Sample-You
So don’t give your real info. We strongly suggest that you invent an amusing test-character whose information you enter each time. This gives you a memorized set of data to enter, allowing you to go fast (as the lesson-writers intended) without typing any of your two-factor question answers.
- Name: Hannah Banana
- Age: 30
- Address: 101 Cherry Drive, Splitsville, TN
- Favorite Color: Yellow
- Favorite Food: Chocolate Fudge
- Best Friend: Nila Wafer
- Pet: Peanut
This kind of fake person can give you a chuckle and is easy to fill in, while protecting your own personal information from casual exposure.
Prefer Web-App Lessons to Downloading
Downloading files directly to your computer is always a risky decision, even from a trusted platform. You never know when just one file might be corrupted, So avoid downloading whenever possible. Favor online schools that offer cloud-resources and don’t require any local files. If you have the internet bandwidth to support it, an all-cloud learning platform is a great way to keep your own computer clean while fully accessing the school’s resources without worry.
Back-Up Your System & Have a Recovery Plan
When exploring new software and online services, the most secure approach is to assume that you will get hacked. You might as well be prepared, because the percent chance of being phished or infected is higher than usual. The best approach is to build a comprehensive backup of your files and your installed programs. If you are apt, you can even back up your computer and network’s system settings.
From this backup, devise a recovery plan. know how to fully wipe your computer and restore it freshly ready-to-use from a good backup. A full wipe and recovery is usually the most efficient way to deal with being hacked, so the smoother that recovery process, the better. Just in case.
Make a Separate Password for Learning Platforms
Finally, be sure to make a new password. By assuming you will be hacked eventually, you can protect all your other accounts by only logging into online school accounts with a new designated password. Don’t worry, it’s easier that it sounds.
Start with a funny acronym like “the rain in spain falls mainly on the plain” reduced to “trisfmotp”. That’s incomprehensible enough, but you can remember it easily with the phrase. Next, assign random numbers, capitals, and symbols based on what makes sense to you. For example, we like “7R!sfM0tp”. And if that isn’t a strong password, we don’t know what is. Use your new pass-phrase (not the example) when you try new online schools to keep your project-security separate from your personal security.
Here at BWS technologies, we specialize in combatting social hacking with smart practices and the right software to back you up. From email filters that detect phishing scams to cloud platforms for download-free viewing, let us secure your team or your personal endeavors for learning through online schools. Contact us today to consult on your e-learning cybersecurity plans.