The internet is a fountain of collective knowledge, making it arguably one of the best places to learn new information.
That said, cybercriminals are now targeting students attempting to expand their knowledge and skills in 57% of attacks.
In this article, we’ll talk about the eight best ways to overcome common cybersecurity threats for online learners.
1. Use Up-to-Date Software
Hackers and other criminals use a variety of techniques to extract information from users, including issues in the software they use.
Make sure that all your computer software is updated, especially applications that rely on internet connections to function. This includes web browsers, music streaming platforms, and instant messengers.
It’s advisable to start the updating process directly from the platform you want to protect. If not, you run the risk of downloading a third-party installer that causes other security threats.
2. Set the Right Privacy Settings
It’s no secret that companies collect information from their users. These businesses then employ this data to build better marketing and sales campaigns. Some organizations may even sell it to third parties.
The privacy settings on each online platform give you a level of control over the data that gets collected. Keep in mind that different platforms and providers give you different options to choose from.
Some of the options you will likely have available in your browser include:
- Preload pages: if you choose to preload pages, you may end up storing images and other files that contain malicious software;
- Do not track: this option asks search engines not to track your activity through the internet;
- Safe browsing: safe browsing censors adult content and protects you from dangerous websites;
- Store payment methods: it’s best to avoid storing payment methods on your browser, as your cards and accounts may end up compromised.
3. Avoid Websites that Don’t Have a Security Certificate
An education website’s SSL security certificate tells web browsers that the page follows basic safety guidelines that protect users browsing through its content.
It’s easy to see if a website has a valid security certificate because it contains the prefix “https” in the address bar.
Now, if you attempt to enter a site that doesn’t have a valid certificate, your browser will probably display a warning — and for good reason.
Always avoid websites that don’t have a valid certificate, as these may have basic flaws that put all of their users in danger.
4. Delete Cookies Regularly
Cookies are small files that browsers store locally on computers and smartphones. These are used to remember user settings and bring more functionality to websites.
To avoid storing potentially harmful files on your device, it’s advisable to clear your browser’s cookies regularly.
5. Connect Through a VPN
A virtual private network or VPN is a tool that allows you to connect to the internet using an encrypted connection from anywhere in the world.
This means no one can intercept your data when you connect using a VPN – including your internet service provider, private companies, and cyber criminals.
If you’re studying online, the importance of VPN software can’t be overstated, so make sure that you keep your sensitive data safe.
6. Don’t Save Passwords on Your Browser
Saving passwords on your browser has a similar downside to storing payment information: a data breach to a server can result in thousands of credentials being compromised.
So, your best bet is to avoid this browser feature and type in your password manually each time.
If you struggle to remember passwords for each platform, opt for a password manager to make your life easier.
7. Browse Using Alternate Search Engines
Google Chrome is the most popular search engine in the world among students and users in general.
However, research suggests that Chrome has more than 400 exploitable vulnerabilities, which means it’s not the safest alternative on the market.
If you want to maintain high-security levels while studying online, you may be better off selecting a privacy and security-centric browser like DuckDuckGo, Firefox, or Brave.
8. Enable 2FA on All Your Accounts
Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is a feature that can improve safety across the board.
In simple terms, 2FA requires users to provide two elements to log into an account. One is a conventional password. The other is access to something that only the authorized user would have.
The most popular form of 2FA is via email, so you would need to enter your password and a PIN that’s sent to your address every time you log in. That said, 2FA systems are also available through mobile phones and other channels.
Why is Cybersecurity Crucial When Studying Online?
Cybersecurity is important while studying online because it ensures that you’re only accessing safe and reliable platforms.
This, in turn, increases the chances of receiving accurate information from trustworthy entities while minimizing the chances of being targeted by cybercriminals.
Whether you’re learning through a conventional online course or studying independently, you need to take proper steps to reduce cybersecurity threats.
By updating your software, using a VPN, and following the other tips we detailed above, you’ll likely be able to avoid criminals and get the most from your learning experience.