Digital Safety: A Teacher's Guide
With the constant integration of new technology in all aspects of education, we want to make sure students AND teachers know how to protect themselves online! We have compiled the most important tips and resources that may be helpful to any teacher using technology in the classroom!
Having strong passwords is a crucial part of device and data security. There are a few rules you should follow when creating strong passwords, which include:
Try to use a different password for every account if possible
Should have 8 or more characters
Should include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters
Should not contain any personal information and should be as random as possible
Making a strong password is important, but so is keeping it secure. Here are some tips for keeping your passwords secure:
Don’t tell anyone your passwords
Change them regularly if you can
Never write them down
Don’t type passwords into computers you don’t trust
Examples of good passwords:
Examples of bad passwords:
Here is a link to check how secure your password is: https://www.security.org/how-secure-is-my-password/
Remembering all these complex passwords might be hard or even impossible. That is why it is a good idea to use a password manager. A password manager is a collection of your account passwords that is password protected itself. This means if someone wanted to access your passwords they would have to know the password to your password manager. There are many free password managers you can use, some of which can be found in the Chrome webstore, and used as an extension in your browser. There are also free password managers on your phone’s app store.
Here are some good password managers:
This entails having multiple ways of signing in or verifying who you are on your devices and accounts. This can be any combination of things including a fingerprint, face recognition, phone number verification, email verification, a numerical pin, a lettered passcode, or a physical key. This can also be known as two factor authentication(2FA), which will use two ways to verify who you are.
Much like the diagram below, Google has a good method of verification where if you are trying to log into your email from a new device, it will send you a code on your phone to make sure that it's actually you trying to sign in. To do this you have to set up multi-factor authentication for your Google account.
Think Before You Post!
Everything you post on the internet is permanent. This is why it's important to think about something before you post it. Many employers will look at your social media when applying for a job. This can be especially important educators to keep in mind when having a presence on social media. It's best to keep your accounts private if possible and don’t post anything that will come back to haunt you!
Oftentimes computers that are provided by the school are updated by the IT department periodically, but certain applications including your web browser(Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari) need to be updated on a regular basis. When you update applications it could fix a vulnerability that was found that could allow an attacker to gain access to your information. You want to make sure your applications, and devices are up to date to avoid getting hacked. Try to update applications as soon as a new update is released!
Many schools have public computers for students and teachers to use. It's important when you are logging into a public computer, that you then LOG OUT of all accounts when you are finished using the computer. This prevents others who might use the same computer from either accidentally or purposely messing with your files, or stealing your personal information.
Once you log out of a computer it's good practice to also RESET it, just as an extra measure to make sure no one can access your data.
If you are using a computer in public space, and you need to step away for something like using the bathroom, you should always LOCK YOUR SCREEN or TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER so that no one can tamper with your computer or data when you are not there.
Be Email Smart!
Phishing is a method attackers use to try and get your personal information.It entails gaining personal information by sending fake emails that look like they are important or from a trusted friend/company.
They are oftentimes used to gain banking information. An attacker might send you an email pretending to be your bank, telling you that you need to sign into your account. Once you do, then they will have your bank sign in and can do with that what they want.
Spear phishing is a type of phishing in which the attacker has some sort of personal information about you which they use to make them seem more trustworthy. They might try to get you to click on a sketchy link or to gain important personal information. Spear phishing emails are sometimes harder to spot because they are more personalized and you are more prone to believe it's true.
An example would be if your school systems emails gets hacked, and then you get an email that looks like its from your principal saying “IMPORTANT PLEASE READ”, which contains a link. You might click on that link without thinking to look to see if the email is actually the principles, since you think its from a trustworthy sender.
How to spot a phishing email:
They are asking you to log in to an account(which includes your password)
Companies like your bank, will never ask you for your login through email
They say there is a problem with account payment
They say they’ve noticed suspicious activity on an account
They say you need to confirm personal or financial information
There are spelling mistakes
They want you to click a link to make a payment
They make the email seem really urgent
They offer you a discount or coupon
They say you are eligible for something
Such as a government refund or money back
The senders email does not match the company that sent the emails
Filter Your Email!
Filtering your email can be a great way to stay organized, but it can also help you help you filter out unwanted emails or phishing emails.
Here’s how to do it:
Go to your gmail search bar, and click on the this symbol on the right
Enter in any sender you want to filter out, or any words you want to filter, then click on the “create filter” button at the bottom
You can assign emails to have certain labels. Such as if you get an email from a co-worker you can make a filter so that the email goes straight to a “work” label. Labels will appear on the left side of your email.
Think Before You Click!
The internet is full of links that contain malicious content, such as malware. You have to be vigilant when clicking on links, especially on a site that doesn’t look trustworthy or from a phishing email.
In the picture above, I hovered over a Google link about phishing. When I hovered over it, a gray bar with a white link appeared in the bottom left corner of the screen. The link that popped up can be seen below:
We know that this link will take us to the page it says it will because it's the same URL as the one that is shown on Google (www.barracuda.com) and includes the same words in the title of the link (such as phishing-protection).
Backup Your Data!
Backing up your data means storing a copy of your data, so that if you lose a file or your computer crashes, you can retrieve the files from your backup.
There are many ways to backup your data including on external hard drives, thumb drives, and cloud storage. One cloud storage option that is easy to use and fairly inexpensive is Google cloud. You get 15 GB of storage space free, which can store a good amount of files.
Other cloud storage includes:
There are many different threats to your computer, including malware. Malware is software code that is designed to cause damage to your computer. Below are different examples of malware:
Use an AdBlocker!
Don't Forget About Physical Protection!
Physical protection is imperative to school safety but also to device and data safety. Most schools have pretty good security measures such as ID badges for teachers to enter the building or to access certain classrooms.
Cyberbullying: Notice the Signs
With an increased use of technology among teens and kids, cyberbullying is all too prevalent and oftentimes goes unnoticed. As a teacher it's important to look for signs of cyberbullying among students.