Top tips for staying safe online - Education Matters Magazine
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Top tips for staying safe online

AVG (AU/NZ) explains how the school community can work together – to protect one another.

Technology provides us with that ability to connect with each other seamlessly across the globe like never before, and yet, with all these advancements we still continue to face the very real dangers of escalating cyber crime, privacy breaches, and other important issues like cyber bullying and harassment.

It is important that teachers, parents and students all work together as a community to ensure they keep each other safe, and this can be achieved through open and honest communication and discussion, common sense tips and tricks, as well as implementing appropriate security technologies.

“It can sometimes be difficult to quantify the real dangers that are present, but start by asking friends if they’ve had a computer infected by malware, or if they’ve ever been the target of cyber bullying, and you might just be surprised how wide spread these things are”, says Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ).

“Staying safe online is not as hard as most people think, and often relies on good old fashioned common sense, and the willingness to improve for the sake of those around us that we care for”, McKinnon added. “Taking responsibility is vital, and these are some simple guidelines to follow.”

  • Upgrade old computers, and keep them up to date. As computer operating systems mature they inherently become more secure through regular updates, but it is also necessary every few years to upgrade to the latest versions as well – for example, if you’re still using Windows XP it’s time to upgrade! It is also important to ensure that you have automatic updates enabled at all times.
  • Install Internet Security software and keep it up-to-date. Anti-Virus solutions provide good basic protection against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and adware. However, to keep your school and students safe online today you really need the additional layers of protection provided by an Internet Security software suite, like AVG Internet Security.
  • Teach students how to set strong passwords, and keep them private. This is especially needed on social networking web sites like Facebook. Also make sure they know how to properly set the privacy information on social networking sites so that their personal information can only be seen by those they trust and give permission to see it. A recent New York Times survey found that up to a third of teenagers will share their passwords with close friends, so it is important to address this issue as well.
  • Never use a computer with the “Administrator” account privilege. Affecting mostly people using older and insecure operating systems (like Windows XP), up to 90% of all security vulnerabilities can be mitigated against simply by setting up regular user account with a strong password for normal daily use – thus eliminating the need to have administrator rights. Access the administrator account only on those rare instances when you may need to install software or change system settings. Make sure all school computers are set up this way, and educate parents and students about this simple measure.
  • Teach everyone to stop and think before they click. Through social media and other sites, we share information at a rapid pace, and so we’re confronted with links to websites and files all the time. Be sure that you understand how to “roll over” a link to view the real destination first, and please make sure you have good web scanning software, like the free AVG LinkScanner® for Windows and Mac computers. It will do a real-time check for any malware payloads that may be lurking on the web page.
  • Don’t forget to secure mobile devices, like phones and tablets. Computing no longer happens only at desks or in the office or classroom; it happens on public transport and in busy cafes. Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets these days are as fast as computer were 5 – 8 years ago – we are all walking around with computers in our pockets! These need to be protected, so ensure you enable PIN number locks, activate phone tracking features (like “Find my iPhone” for iPhone, or AVG Mobilation for Android) for lost or stolen devices, as well as security scanning software.

Just remember that by discussing and implementing some of these guidelines with your school community, you’ll be helping to raise awareness and combat some of the challenges facing all of us that benefit so greatly from modern technology. At AVG we’re all about protecting our community of users, and we help schools with discounts of up to 50% on our award winning protection software – backed up with expert technical support from the AVG (AU/NZ) team based in Melbourne.

Want to help your school’s students, parents and/or teachers to learn more about today’s online threats and how to stay safe online? Then have Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor for AVG (AU/NZ) come and speak at your school.

See  http://www.avg.com.au/security-advisor/ for details