NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The pandemic has made virtual learning the new way of life for schools across Tennessee. Computer security experts warned parents about the dangers at their child’s fingertips.
“I think parents need to get educated. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of education. It doesn’t have to be a thought where you need to become a cyber expert but you need to learn the basics and understand what to look for,” said UNISYS Chief Information Security Officer Mathew Newfield. “For example – teaching your child that if you get an email or a text message that has a link in I, how can you verify that the link is taking you where you need to go.”
Newfield said during a survey, UNISYS learned only 31-percent of people responded saying they thought cybersecurity was a problem.
“People are really worried about their health and the health of their loved ones and their finances and the finances of their loved ones. So, it makes sense. And, the adversaries are taking advantage of that temporary lapse of cybersecurity judgment so we see an uptick in it. Things like phishing attacks where you’re getting those emails or SMS phishing attacks, some people call them smishing attacks or even voice fishing attacks, those phone calls coming in saying ‘hey I’m a school administrator, your account looks weird. Give me your password,” said Newfield. “And having those conversations, your child might say ‘wow somebody said they were my principal. Well, I don’t know what my principal sounds like, I don’t know what the secretary sounds like, so I’m going to give it to them.’ But talking to your child and saying don’t ever give your password out, ever. If someone asks you, ask for a phone number that you will call them back.”
Parents were advised to take the following precautions:
- Look for software support. If a parent is unable to fully supervise a child while they’re doing school work, there is “nanny software” that people can invest in that helps monitor what their families are doing. This software can be used as a lesson to teach kids what websites are or are not appropriate as well as provide a regular report on a child’s online activity.
- Separate work from play. When using laptops, tablets, and phones, if you are able to get and provide your child with a personal computer that’s not given by the school, one of the first things you need to explain as a parent is that this is your work system. This is not your play system and you need to use it for school only.
- Talk to your children about cyber safety. It’s important to build trust so that if your child is concerned about something they see on the internet, they can ask you without fear of reprisal. Help them understand the dangers that can come with being on the web, and don’t be afraid to ask them if they’ve come across anything out of the ordinary online.
- Verify all hyperlinks. If you have doubts, look at the domain in the URL and use online search engines to verify it independently. Before clicking links that are sent to you, hover over the link with your mouse arrow and ensure it is taking you to the intended website.
- Secure your hardware. Make sure you are protecting your Wi-Fi network and devices around the house by patching and updating to the latest firmware and checking the brand and model for security risks. It is also important to change default passwords and use passwords of significant strength (greater than eight characters with three of the following four (upper case, lower case, number, special character). Do not use words or deviations of words as passwords.
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