Back to School: 4 Cybersecurity Lessons

Notebooks, pencils, password managers? As we begin the back-to-school season, it is important to review good cybersecurity practices with school-aged children. Whether school is virtual or in-person, many aspects of education now use the Internet as a learning tool. Here are some cybersecurity topics to discuss with your kids or grandkids before they head back to school.

1. The power of passwords

One area of cybersecurity that most children have been exposed to already is creating passwords. Many kids have a password for some sort of account. And many more may need to create passwords for school accounts this year. Be sure your kids understand the importance of creating strong passwords—especially if they are protecting personal information.

You may want to share some of these password techniques so kids can begin creating their own unique passwords that are tough to crack but memorable.

  • Mnemonic device password: Your child is likely already familiar with mnemonic devices to remember the order of the planets or the color of the rainbow. They can use this same technique to create a strong password. Encourage them to take a line from a favorite song or book and use the first letter of each word to create a password. This will be easy for them to remember, but tough for a hacker to crack.
  • Goal setting password: Does your child have a goal for the school year? Maybe they want to make the soccer team? Or get straight A’s? Keep this goal front and center by turning it into a password! Every time they type their password, they’ll get a boost of motivation towards that goal.

2. Back up data

If your child is of an age where they are writing reports on a computer, you should teach them about the importance of backing up their data. Ransomware and simple mistakes can lead to documents being deleted before they are turned in for a grade. Consider setting up a Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive account with your child so they can save all of their important documents to the cloud in addition to their physical device.

This is an important cybersecurity practice for kids to learn at a young age since ransomware has become such a prominent cybersecurity threat. Having a backup of their files means that even if they do fall victim to a ransomware attack, they’ll be able to access all of their files on the cloud.

3. Protect personal information

Kids should understand what personal information they should think twice before sharing online. You can help your kids decide if a particular app or website should know things like their birthdate, address, and full name.

For younger kids, you’ll probably want to review this on an account-by-account basis. Older kids may have a better understanding on their own.

4. Keep devices up to date

Lastly, kids should be taught to keep all of their devices and apps/programs up to date. Many cybersecurity incidents occur due to outdated software that is exploited by hackers. Talk to your child about checking their computer, iPad, or phone for updates regularly. This will help keep their devices safe and working properly.

This time of the year is a great time to review cybersecurity actions with kids, as they might have new devices. Talking to your kids regularly about cybersecurity will help keep them safe and begin to learn how they can protect themselves online. (Keep in mind that this advice is good for people of all ages!)

Emerging threat: T-Mobile Data Breach

More than 40 million T-Mobile customers have had their personal information exposed in a massive data breach. The cell phone provider reported that its computer networks had been breached resulting in information such as names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and driver license information being stolen. Active T-Mobile customers as well as individuals who applied for credit with T-Mobile are believed to be affected.

At this time, T-Mobile says that no phone numbers, account numbers, PINs, or financial information of customers were exposed. However, phone numbers and PINs for pre-paid plan customers were stolen. T-Mobile has reset the PIN codes of those affected. All T-Mobile customers should consider changing their PIN and password information.

Securities offered through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc (JWC) Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through James River Asset Management LLC. James River Wealth Advisors and James River Asset Management LLC are unaffiliated entities of J.W. Cole Financial.



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Securities offered through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc (JWC) Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through James River Asset Management LLC. James River Wealth Advisors and James River Asset Management LLC are unaffiliated entities of J.W. Cole Financial.

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