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5 Internet Safety Tips for Teachers


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Dec 13, 2023
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5 Internet Safety Tips for Teachers

The internet has provided teachers with numerous tools to enhance their students’ learning experience. However, it’s not without a few downsides. Cyber threats, in particular, can expose both educators and learners to new kinds of risks that could endanger their privacy and security.

As a teacher, taking proactive measures to avoid and mitigate them is critical for creating a safe environment to teach and learn while maximizing the perks of the vast digital resources the internet offers.

Common Cyber Threats Facing Educators

Every profession has had its fair share of internet-based troubles. But what scams and crimes are teachers most likely to encounter?

  • Account Breaches

Cybercriminals can deploy a variety of techniques, including hacking and credential stuffing, to unlawfully gain access to online profiles.​

They can take over both your personal and work-related accounts, from your emails and social media to online teaching platforms.​

This could expose confidential student data, compromise work communications, and even jeopardize the safety of those around you. By gaining entry to your email account, for instance, bad actors could assume your identity and target your students, school, and loved ones for various scams.​

  • Phishing Attacks

Fraudsters frequently use misleading emails, phone calls, SMSs, social media DMs, and other digital channels to deceive victims and extract confidential information. This is a prevalent practice known as phishing, which accounts for over 80% of security breaches.​

By falling victim to a phishing attack, you can unknowingly give away your account passwords, bank information, social security number, and other vital data belonging to you and others.​

A good example of phishing is a criminal impersonating a parent and requesting student records or someone mimicking your school’s payroll manager and asking for your bank account information.​

  • Zoombombing

The popularity of Zoom-based online classes has led to increased incidents of Zoombombing. This is when a bad actor gains entry into a Zoom call to disrupt sessions and target participants for scams.​

  • Malware Threats

Message links, email attachments, virus-infected external devices, and spoofed websites can all become a source for a malware attack.​

Malicious software can pose various threats once they get into your devices. Ransomware, for instance, can hold hostage files in your computer until you pay a ransom.​

Certain malware types could also steal data unknown to you or use keystroke logging to access your account credentials. These threats can spread to others as well via infected devices and documents, multiplying the damage within a short time.​

Internet Safety Tips for Teachers

Today’s educators can no longer do without technological resources. For a safe digital experience, adopting adequate security practices is critical both in and outside the classroom.

1. Share Responsibly

What you share online could give away important clues for cybercriminals to plan their next malicious scam.

For instance, a selfie you had taken at school could reveal where you work. It may even show documents and computer screens in the background displaying sensitive information. Although these may seem like trivial details to a regular person, they can be useful data for someone scheming to dupe you.

Therefore, screening what you share online is an essential practice to minimize cyber threats and ensure your internet safety.

2. Authenticate Communications

This is particularly vital for avoiding phishing-related threats.

For instance,

  • Inspect email addresses to confirm they match the emails the respective individuals or entities have used in the past. Even a simple discrepancy, whether it’s an extra hyphen or a missing letter, could mean you’re dealing with an imposter.
  • Look for red flags, such as unusual phrases and greetings, in unexpected emails, messages, and other written communications from people you know. These may hint at an impersonation scam.
  • Verify who has contacted you from an unknown phone number before sharing sensitive data in response to a voice call or message by reverse searching the number. To make the process easier, pay attention to the area code of the number. For instance, if it’s 251, then it’s Alabama. If the area code is 216, then the number owner is from Ohio.
  • Hover the cursor above email links to check whether the text matches the linked URL. If it doesn’t, it’s best not to click on it.
  • Ignore links in unsolicited messages, even those sent by people familiar to you.
  • When you need to access a website or log into an online account, type the relevant address on the URL bar instead of using links shared in messages and emails. Bookmark the web address if you frequently need to visit the site.
  • Avoid downloading attachments that your email service provider or virus guard is unable to scan.

3. Prevent Data Tracking

Many organizations adopt online data-collecting practices to improve their services and gain an edge over their competition. This could expose you to a variety of risks. For instance, a breach at one of these third-party databases could compromise your data safety and subject you to identity theft and financial fraud.

Some of these data collectors can also share what they track with other organizations, increasing your chances of encountering data threats even more.

To prevent such intrusions,

  • Reject cookies whenever possible and delete what’s already installed.
  • Deactivate your browser’s search-suggestion and auto-fill options and delete your search history.
  • Turn off the data-collecting and sharing features provided by social media and other sites where you’ve set up personal accounts.
  • Read the data protection policies of online platforms before signing up.
  • Avoid apps that require access to unnecessary personal data, such as your contact lists, location, and image gallery.
  • Install a virtual private network to prevent data tracking by bad actors when you’re online.
  • Only use Wi-Fi networks secured by password protection.

4. Adopt Access Controls

Essential steps include:

  • Using strong passwords to protect accounts and documents from unauthorized access.
  • Applying a unique password for each file and account to prevent multiple breaches in the event of a single credential compromise.
  • Installing a password manager to safely manage all your online usernames and passwords.
  • Controlling who gets access to Zoom classrooms with the help of passcodes. You can also use the Waiting Room feature to screen and approve participants.

5. Strengthen Device Security

Safeguarding your smartphone, laptop, and other devices from physical and digital threats is crucial for your safety.

  • Prevent device intrusions by setting up passwords and biometric identifiers.
  • Install anti-malware software to detect and contain malicious attacks.
  • Enable automatic updates to keep software up-to-date.
  • Scan external devices before installing them.
  • Follow your school’s BYOD policies to strengthen security.

To Conclude

Internet safety has become a critical concern for teachers across the US as they adopt an increasing number of digital tools and resources in the classroom.

By following the tips and tricks we’ve discussed in this article, you can swiftly set up security barriers to avoid and mitigate common cyber threats.

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Copyright ©2024 worddreams.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

“The content presented in this blog is the result of my creative imagination and not intended for use, reproduction, or incorporation into any artificial intelligence training or machine learning systems without prior written consent from the author.”

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
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