How Teachers Can Stay Safe Online: A Cybersecurity Guide

Introduction

This past year has seen cybercriminals target institution after institution, hospital after hospital. Unfortunately, not even schools are safe from cybercriminals. From colleges to elementary schools, cybercriminals have begun targeting schools, students, and teachers.

Data breaches, malware infections, leaked records: there’s no limit to the damage cybercriminals can cause. As a teacher, you may be wondering how you can keep your students safe. Let’s go over a few ways you can do just that.

Online Threats Facing Teachers

Data Breaches

A school’s Wi-Fi network is connected to so many devices that if a data breach were to happen, the data of students, teachers, and parents would be affected. Unfortunately, school data breaches are more common than you might think.

Out-of-Date Software

Developers couple routine software updates with security patches. This means that if you ignore these updates, your devices will be susceptible to ransomware, viruses, and data breaches.

IoT Vulnerabilities

Many schools use IoT devices such as security cameras and smart assistants to aid in the security and productivity of the school. However, IoT devices are rarely secure, and they often act as vulnerabilities in a school’s network.

How Teachers Can Protect Themselves

1. Use a VPN

Some school networks have private connections, but many use public networks so that students can use the Internet as well. If your school uses a public network, be sure to use a VPN for security. With a VPN, your data will be encrypted—a luxury public networks don’t give—and you’ll be able to work without fear of your data being stolen.

2. Update Software

Outdated software is a hotbed for malware and viruses. Software updates often come with security patches; going without these security patches puts you and your school’s network at risk.

Update your devices’ software as often as possible. And maybe try to get other staff to do the same, if possible.

3. Teach Students Proper Cybersecurity

There are some lessons that any teacher can teach, and that includes cybersecurity. If you can afford the time, reserve a few minutes to tell your students about how they can stay safe online. At the very least, tell them how they’re expected to act while using the school’s Wi-Fi.

4. Employ Network Filters

Most schools employ some sort of network filter and firewall to limit what students and faculty can do online. This is a great idea! If your place of work doesn’t currently do this, then it’s worth starting a discussion with IT to add a filter and firewall immediately. With a filter and firewall combo, it will be difficult for students or faculty to visit harmful websites and let malware spread.

5. Use Strong Passwords

If someone knew your passwords—the passwords you use to log in to educational software, grading software, and vice versa—they could get their hands on tons of private data. To avoid this, be sure you’re using strong and secure passwords for everything.

Conclusion

Being a teacher means being responsible for the security of your students. With these tips, you’ll be able to keep your students’ data secure with little change in your daily routine.

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