The back-to-school season comes with a lot of changes, and as students, you are continuously learning. A key focus outside the lecture hall this school year should be to include the importance of online safety. Spending more time online comes with certain risks like being exposed to phishing scams, losing access to your accounts and sensitive information, and other cyber threats.
How to have a cyber safe school year
Recognize the signs
A good starting point to getting cyber secure is getting familiar with the most common cyber threats. Phishing is one of the most common cyber threats to Canadians. Cyber criminals use phishing messages to disguise themselves to look like a legitimate person or company to steal your sensitive information. Be cautious of clicking links or downloading attachments from messages that seem suspicious. Learn to spot the signs of phishing and other cyber security threats to keep yourself and your classmates safe.
Keep your private information private
Keeping up to date with your friends on social media is fun and convenient. However, it’s important to keep your sensitive information private. Be mindful of those who can view your social pages and limit the type of information you share. Cyber criminals can use the information you post online to appear more legitimate when trying to trick you or your friends. Keep social media cyber threats in mind when communicating online, and remember that not everyone is who they say they are.
Use cyber security tools to protect your devices and accounts
If you’re using devices for class or to keep updated with friends, it’s important to keep them protected. Consider using these cyber security tools to help keep your devices and accounts safe:
- install anti-virus software on your devices to scan your devices for malware and other cyber threats
- update your software to keep your systems working to their best abilities
- give your devices and accounts unique and complex passphrases to keep your private information secure
- use multi-factor authentication (MFA), where applicable, for an extra layer of security on accounts and to regain access if you forget your passphrase
Report suspicious activity
Be suspicious of messages you weren’t expecting to receive, that present too good to be true offers, or seem out of character from the sender. It’s important to report suspicious activity online to help protect you and others. Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to report incidents of fraud online. If you experienced suspicious financial activity, report it your financial institution as soon as possible.
Learning to stay safe online is important through your academic journey and it starts with simple steps. And remember, knowledge is power and sharing is caring – so make sure to share these steps with the loved ones in your life to help everyone get cyber safe this school year.