Cyber Security Today, Aug. 13, 2021 – Back to school cybersecurity advice

Back to school cybersecurity advice.

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday, August 13th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing writer on cybersecurity for

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It will shortly be back to school for students in Canada and the U.S. So now’s time for parents to remind their young ones – and teens – how to be safe online.

Here are some tips from Palo Alto Networks:

Recognize that your children are tech-savvy, but not cyber-savvy.

Your kids are growing up in the digital age of screens and social media, and it can be difficult as a parent to keep pace with the latest technologies and platforms.

Familiarize yourself with your children’s devices and learning platforms, particularly with how to configure parental controls and privacy settings. Children know the workarounds, so you’ll need to be vigilant about the content they have access to. And make sure they only download safe apps.

–Make sure they use different passwords for different accounts and devices. This is a security best practice for everyone, so if parents do it they can tell their children to follow them.

–Make sure they use a strong username and password for every account and device. If accounts offer two-factor or multi-factor authentication, enable it. Then use a password manager to keep track of everything. The manager also has to have a strong username and password. Two-factor authentication secures your logins from hackers, who exploit weak or stolen credentials.

–Parents should ask their school board what it’s doing to protect against cyber threats, like data theft and ransomware. Is it investing in cybersecurity solutions to protect the board’s infrastructure and your child’s information? Is it raising awareness on security issues with training for students and teachers?

The Canadian government’s Get Cyber Safe website has these additional tips:

–Teach children how to watch for phishing scams in their email and social media accounts. Teach them to think twice before clicking on links. Teach them that crooks often send messages from compromised accounts, so what looks like is coming from a friend may be a scammer. Teach children that when emailing new contacts or adding new friends on social media to make sure the account or contact is legitimate.

School boards also have to be ready. Drew Daniels, chief information and security officer of Druva, offers this advice to boards and principals:

–Assign training before classes start. Just as students have summer reading assignments, administrators and teachers should have to complete entry-level training courses before school begins;

–Create a cybersecurity checklist of warning signs that a school or board network has been compromised. Post that checklist on the school’s online learning system, and on walls. Publishing a monthly online cybersecurity newsletter that goes to teachers, parents and will be valuable;

–Practice makes perfect, teachers say. So does practicing a simulated cyber attack

Finally, make sure your children’s devices have automatic updates enabled for the operating system and all apps, and that all devices have anti-virus software.

Finally, I’m off for a few days so Jim Love, IT World Canada’s CIO and chief content officer, will host the Week in Review podcast later today. Tune in for some spirited debate.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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