As the kids head back to school or college, they’ll likely be using computers. Whether they use their personal computer or a public school computer there are safety precautions that should be taken. There are some things you can do to be sure your student is protected. Talk with your kids about how to use them as safely as possible to avoid unwanted access to personal data.
A lot of work done at school may be done on a web browser. You don’t need to worry about performing simple tasks like research or homework guidance; however, checking email, social media, shopping, and other tasks need to be done with caution. Advising your student to not do these things on a public school computer is the safest route.
Anything that requires personal information including a login and password can be stored by a web browser and accessed by anyone that sits down at the same computer after them. Teach them how to use Privacy Mode or Private Browsing if they absolutely must use a school computer for anything that requires personal information. Keep in mind this is still not a full-proof way to protect themselves, but can help.
Old Fashioned Hacking
It’s not just the computer you have to worry about while using a computer in a public place. There are still the old fashioned ways which include someone simply looking over your shoulder to gather personal information or asking you to borrow the computer for just a moment. Teach your student to be aware of who they are sitting next to, who they allow to use the computer at the same time, and people lurking around them.
Once they are done with any public school computer, they should logout and shut down if at all possible. This will delete temporary files from the computer. Never save any files to the computer – even temporarily. Consider using a cloud-based solution or carry a USB drive. Even after the deletion of the file if your child remembers to delete it, it is still in the computer’s memory and can be recovered.
Personal Computers on Used on School Resources
If you are using a personal computer on an open network that many people have access to, be sure to have a good anti-virus program in place. Also, be aware that when using your personal computer everything you do on the school’s network CAN be monitored. You are using their servers, wifi, and network – it can be done.
One last item to note is that underage users do not have the same rights to privacy as adults. Whether you like it or not, they simply don’t. The only sure way to increase your chances of complete privacy is to use your own personal wifi or hotspot, which a school may or may not allow. Other dangers will still exist including viruses or lending the computer out to the wrong person.