Back-To-School Guide

The 2021 Back-to-School Guide for Your Security & Sanity

In many households, back-to-school looks chaotic this year (i.e. planning for a hybrid-learning approach, re-learning old routines for in-person schooling or strategizing how to combat burn-out for another remote-learning school year).  Students aren’t the only ones preparing for the back-to-school rush. Hackers are taking advantage of this time to capitalize off of school districts due to factors such as remote-learning, poor cybersecurity posture and the need for schools to be up and running.

Cybercriminals have been targeting schools and students since 2016,  including a recent attack on Judson ISD in San Antonio, Texas.  Judson ISD paid over $500k to an unknown ransom group to avoid thousands of students’ and teachers’ personal information from being released. Cindy Sexton, President of Teachers Association of Baltimore County, comments on the recent Judson ISD attack and “wouldn’t wish ransomware on anyone” after Baltimore County suffered from an attack last November, resulting in nearly $8 Million in losses.

With K-12 students spending more time online than ever before, attacks specifically targeting kids are expected to increase dramatically.  Here are 7 tips to ensure safety and sanity while attending school online.

Teach your Kids to NOT Phish

1. Educate your child on phishing scams

In-person, you teach your children not to talk to, get into cars with or accept candy from strangers. Online, you need to teach them not to click on links or file attachments sent to them by strangers, as well as not to respond to messages requesting login credentials or other personal information.


2. Use blue-light glasses

Digital eye strain can occur after only two hours on devices. Symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • Headaches
  • Limited attention span
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes

Blue-light glasses block UV light and help mitigate digital eye strain. Fortunately they are affordable and can be purchased in bulk to give to the entire family!


Blue-Light Glasses

3. Protect your child’s passwords

Since about 80% of all data breaches can be traced back to stolen or compromised passwords, the simplest yet most important thing you can do to protect your child online is to make sure they’re exercising good password hygiene, including:

  • Using strong, unique passwords for all of their online accounts
  • Never sharing their passwords with other people
  • Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) on every site that supports it


4. Setup screen limits on devices

Updating social media profiles, dominating video games or binge-watching TV, adolescents are already spending majority of their time behind a screen. Now they are expected learn and do homework behind the same screen.

Utilizing screen time limits great way for them to stay on top of schoolwork, cut back on screen time and increase productivity.



Screen Time Alert

5. Improve your Wi-Fi

Make sure your router is visible. Don’t hide it behind obstructions. If it is locked away in a dark corner of the home, consider relocating it somewhere more central.

Things that can affect your Wi-Fi signal:

  • Physical obstructions: You may like hiding your router but placing it behind a large object can cloud your signal.  Even construction materials like concrete within your walls can block a Wi-Fi signal.
  • Radios and baby monitors: They may be interfering with your Wi-Fi signal because they tend to be on the same frequency band as the Wi-Fi.
  • Water: If the Wi-Fi signal must pass through an aquarium the signal may be weaker.


6. Don’t use public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi connections, such as those that Starbucks, restaurants and other businesses provide for customers’ use, are notoriously insecure. This allows cybercriminals to see all of the information that users are transmitting on the public Wi-Fi. Make sure your child does schoolwork on your secured home network.
Multi-Factor Authentication

7. Check your email for important cybersecurity messages from your child’s school

Stay connected with the school to ensure you’re kept aware of cyberattacks such as the one that hit the Rialto School District only two weeks into the new school year, where cybercriminals installed malware on students’ district-provided devices.


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