Moms, Dads, and Friends: Take 7 Steps to Secure Your Students’ Computers
School is starting again and many students need computers. Take these important steps to help make them more secure:In addition to how they back up now, they also need to perform image backups that will back up everything, even programs, so that restore operations can go quickly and not interfere with schoolwork. Image backup tools include Shadow Protect Desktop from Storage Craft, and Acronis True Image. For Macs, use Carbon Copy Cloner.
Be sure the “automatic update” feature is turned on in Windows and in Mac OS. Students must have the critical security patches installed to dramatically increase security. They’ll need to patch their browsers separately.
Uninstall all programs that they don’t think they will use. Start with the programs that are easy to recognize and skip the rest for now. Each program is a potential toe-hold for an attacker to gain access to a system. Worst case, if they delete something now that they need later, they can re-install it. In particular, remove Java and Flash. These are two tools that are frequently hacked and may be unnecessary. If a student finds they need either, he or she can reinstall them with the newest version. Make sure they get Java only from java dot com and Flash from get.adobe dot com/flashplayer/
Make sure they make their user account a “standard user” on their computer. This helps block attackers. Steps for Windows and Mac: 1) Create a new user 2) promote that user to be a local administrator 3) Demote your account to a standard user and use your own account.
Turn on two-step verifications on all the websites they visit. The setting is usually in the security settings of the website.
They need to keep their computer physically secure. Someone could access their files, social media, and e-mail accounts easily and without their knowledge. Passwords aren’t that helpful. It is usually trivial to bypass passwords on computers once an attacker gains physical access to a computer.
And though they may not heed this last step, it is a really good idea to avoid connoting to Wi-Fi services at school, coffee shops, etc. It is better if they use their phone or personal hot-spot to connect their computer to the Internet when they need to. The phone charges may be lower than you expect, especially if you call your phone provider and check about new data plan options.
Please forward this to your friends who have students; it can help prevent some big heartaches.