Not a week goes by where we are not hearing about, reporting on, or providing comment to another major breach. From big box chains to mom and pop shops, it seems to be a constant source of news. Beyond the commercial and financial industries though are the education sectors, with colleges and private schools under attack at the same rate as their commercial distant-cousins. And with school less than a month away for most students, we think it is time for some reminders on personal security. While you will not be able to impact the local educational institutes security layer, you can add layers to your personal protection.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
We talk about this a lot because it is one of the easiest aspects of security to implement. Two-factor authentication adds another layer of security when logging into a website, be it e-mail, banking, or other websites. Some websites, such as Google, will text you a code when you login to verify your identity, while others have small devices that you can carry around to generate the code. Authentication apps are also available on all major smartphone platforms. Other types of two-factor authentication do exist as well, so look in the settings of your banking, shopping, and e-mail hosts for the option.
- Signup for login notifications
This security layer is often used in place of two-factor authentication, including by websites such as Facebook. If your account is accessed from an unfamiliar location, a notification is sent via e-mail, app, or text-message to the account holder. This is a great layer of security that offers you on-the-go protection. This feature, if offered, can usually be found in the security settings of the website, such as banking and social media, you are accessing.
- Change your passwords before school starts
There is a reason your office requires regular password changes for your e-mail. Even if your password is compromised, by changing it regularly across all your accounts, you remove the chance of your account being accessed. A pro-tip would be to set a reminder for every 90 days on your calendar with a link to all your accounts settings pages. It makes it easiest to click through and make the changes regularly.
- Increase junk filtering and avoid clicking through on e-mails
You just received an e-mail from a teacher asking for you to login and verify your school credentials. Many phishing schemes start with something looking very innocent and official, but lead unassuming users to websites designed to collect the information direct from you. If you receive an e-mail from one of the account-holding websites, or even a known person, open a new tab and go direct to the website instead of clicking the links provided. It adds only a few seconds to the access, but keeps you out of any legit-looking phishing websites. Most legitimate services will never ask you for your login credentials, so make sure to avoid giving out this information.
- Use an up-to-date security program
Whether you use Webroot SecureAnywhere or another product on the market today, ensure you have the most up-to-date version and have the correct security settings enabled. Security programs are designed to keep the malicious files such as keyloggers and data-miners off your computer and the user protected. This direct layer of security ensures your devices, from phones to tablets to computers, are all protected when you are downloading and accessing files. Note that some programs, such as Webroot SecureAnywhere, are always up-to-date and require no further action from the user..
While schools will continue to be a target, you can work to minimize any breach impact on your personal data by following these steps. And if you were to receive news that your education institution has been breached, use these steps to go back and conduct a personal audit, while also taking advantage of credit alerts and other tools out there.