Four ways to educate your students about cyber security

Use these tips to prevent your students from getting hacked in college

Four ways to educate your students about cyber security

According to Forbes, 2013 was “the year you got hacked.” With so many new mediums of technology, the ability to have your information compromised is higher than ever. That is why you should take the time to educate your students about beefing up their cyber security. College is a time of new independence and self-sufficiency. If your students are going to be successful after graduation, they will have to ensure they take the necessary steps to protect themselves online. After talking with Michelle Gelfand at DriveSavers, here is how you can do that:


Don’t underestimate your students’ apathy

"People who have been raised with technology and the Internet are more likely to be nonchalant about cyber security risks,” says Gelfand.  Your students were surrounded by advanced technology from an early age, so they might not be as vigilant about protecting their online presence as other generations. It is important for you to make them understand the risks that will make them particularly vulnerable when they are in college. For example, Gelfand describes that Dropbox (a tool many college students use to upload and share projects) can be remotely utilized to take control of PCs. Also, various WiFi routers support the easy-to-hack WPA.


Know which passwords to recommend

"We recommend that you have a different password for every online service,” Gelfand advises. “Multiple variations of one easy-to-remember password counts as different passwords.” Use this list of guidelines to help your students create unique, hard-to-hack passwords:

• Passwords should be at least 7-10 characters long

• Don’t use a number series like 1234 or 4321

• Don’t use the names of children/pets or the numbers of birthdays

• Include at least 1 number and 1 special character

• Don’t use single dictionary words (spelled forward or backward)

• Don’t use character substitution for dictionary words (like p@$$worD)

• Use a string of 3 words with no spaces that are meaningful and memorable to you

• Good password example: 3wOrdSmushedTo{gether


Know and explain what “encryption” means:

For those who are less tech-savvy, you should still try to learn as much as you can about protecting yourself online. One way to learn is by getting informed on the technical lingo such as encryption. “Encryption basically gives your data a secret code language,” says Gelfand. “It scrambles or ‘encodes,’ data in a way that cannot be read…Entering a password unscrambles the data and puts it back into correct order, or decrypts the data.” To fully communicate the importance of using strong passwords, tell your students the specifics of encryption and how it protects important information. Furthermore, learn all you can about the specifics of cyber security and share that information with your students.


Advise students to back-up their files:

Since your students will be using their computers for every aspect of their academic lives, let them know how important it is to back-up their computers. “We recommend backing up your data both with an online back-up service and with an external hard drive,” Gelfand tells us. This will protect your students if they ever need to transfer their files. And it is always a good idea to have copies of all your documents.

When your students go off to college, they will responsible for protecting themselves. In addition to helping them prepare for academic life in college, help them become self-reliant with these four tips. By following the DriveSavers guidelines, you can help your students secure their online information and activity.

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