August 26, 2019

7 Back to School Cyber Security Tips

Written by: Raj Sharma Head of Information Security, VP, Northern Bank
Mother and daughter using a laptop together

Most kids today are plugged into devices like TVs, tablets, and smartphones well before they can even ride a bike. As our kids head back to school, social media usage will be on the rise. And as a result, kids can be exposed to unique risks in cyberspace. In planning for the year ahead, we wanted to share some tips to raise awareness and jump-start the conversation to promote kids’ internet security.

  1. Recognize Phishing Attacks: Children are especially vulnerable in Phishing Attacks, Attackers try to lure you to click on links or give out your personal information. Just like reminding our kids not to talk to strangers, the same message should apply when responding to an unknown individual while online. Whether it is talking to someone you do not know while playing a game online or responding to an email, clicking on links that you do not recognize or responding to email, messages from strangers in any capacity should always be “No”.
  2. Backup Data: It is a best practice to establish a regular process to backup files, even for your children. In this day an age, there are malicious viruses, like Ransomware, that are known to encrypt your important files and ask you for a ransom. Backup can be done to an external device, or to programs like Google Drive, iCloud, drop box, etc.
  3. Protect Passwords: In this day and age, the recommendation is to make your passwords lengthy and complicated. Children should be reminded to never reveal them to anyone, and to use different passwords for different accounts.
  4. Enable Security Controls: It is a good idea to talk to children about enabling anti-virus and firewall within their respective machines and stress the importance of enabling these programs and potential impact if they are disabled.
  5. Secure Access Points: Public WIFI and free WIFI are not always the most secure access points. The WIFI spots can be used by a hacker to extract confidential information about you while you browse the internet. Remind children not to use public or free WIFI to access confidential information or access key school documents that they may be working on.
  6. Consider Parental Controls: It is important for children to understand the dangers of responding to any messages (text, email, etc.) in high emotion and sharing pictures with friends. Parents of students in middle school or under should strongly consider installing parental control tools to prevent minors for accessing unwanted sites and tracking cyber habits.
  7. Keep Software Up-To-Date: It is important to remind children to keep their software up to date for their computers and mobile devices. Software updates include security fixes for vulnerabilities.

Hopefully these tips are a good starting point to discussing safe web browsing habits, raising awareness about the dangers of the internet and sharing ways to protect themselves against them.

Written by
Raj Sharma
Head of Information Security, VP, Northern Bank

Raj Sharma brings 19 years of Information Security experience in the banking industry to his role at Northern Bank. On the Northern Bank Team since 2018, Raj has played an integral part in building the Information Security function that is so critical to mitigating the ever changing security threat environment. He holds a Masters in Information Security and several industry recognized certifications such as CISSP (Certified Information Security Systems Professional) and CISM (Certified Information Security Manager). Raj is so interested in Information Security, he not only chose it as a career, he makes it his hobby and is constantly learning about new technologies.

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Northern Bank is a full service bank dedicated to providing practical, common sense financial solutions to help our customers’ lives and businesses grow. From deposit products to loans to payment and collections services, we work hands on with our entrepreneurial customers, both locally and across the country, to provide the financial support they need to realize their personal and business goals. Founded in 1960, Northern Bank has assets of $2 billion with 12 locations serving communities throughout Middlesex County. Northern Bank is a Member of the FDIC, an Equal Housing Lender, and consistently ranked among the best performing community banks in New England.

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