Safe Web 101: How to Improve Cybersecurity When Studying Online

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. 

However, it’s also possible for cybercriminals to use cookies for malicious activities. 

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.


What Makes E-Signatures Safe and Trustworthy?

Most businesses and organizations will distribute and receive documents that must be signed or have been signed. This has been the case for at least a century, and probably longer.

However, the way in which these documents may be signed has changed in recent years. For example, it’s become increasingly common for companies to resort to and accept e-signatures instead of traditional pen-and-ink signatures.

An e-signature serves the same purpose as a traditional autograph. It’s simply a digital alternative. Though many have embraced this solution, some have remained reluctant to do so.

This is often the case because someone worries that an e-signature may not be secure. This is an understandable concern, but not a justifiable one.

E-signatures are actually highly secure, and arguably more secure to a substantial degree than ink signatures. The following points illustrate why.

E-Signatures Are Difficult to Forge

Forging a traditional ink signature isn’t terribly difficult. Someone might not have the skills necessary to forge a signature on his own, but with a little effort, he could probably find someone who does.

Or the aspiring forger could develop the necessary skill over time. In addition, a range of tech tools can make the task of forging a traditional signature much easier.

Forging an e-signature is far more challenging. It requires access to your computer. The forger must also have your signing certificate password.

It’s crucial to understand that an e-signature isn’t just an image that resembles a traditional ink signature. It’s actually more of an algorithm that creates a “digital footprint” unique to the signer.

E-Signatures Offer Greater Control Over Documents

E-signatures are also convenient for many reasons. One is the simple fact that they allow organizations and individuals to process documents much more quickly than they used to.

For example, instead of mailing a new client a contract and waiting for them to return it–again, through the postal service–with their signature before work on a lucrative project can begin, you could send the contract as an attachment to an email, obtain the e-signature, and start work in a matter of minutes.

This also increases the safety and security of critical documents. Although it may be fairly rare for the postal service to lose mail, it does happen. Sending a physical document by mail also increases the chance of it falling into the hands of someone you’d prefer would not see it.

That’s going to be far less of a concern when you send it by email. Unless you’re the target of a cyberattack at precisely the wrong time, it’s highly unlikely the wrong person would intercept an email you just sent.

This is another reason e-signatures are secure. They allow you to send and receive documents that must be signed in a manner that’s much safer than traditional mail.

E-Signatures Have Electronic Records

When transactions involve signing multiple documents, perhaps over a somewhat long span of time, disputes can arise. Luckily, e-signatures provide an electronic record of a transaction.

They establish an “audit trail” that can be used to solve disputes more readily. Because such disputes often overlap with security concerns or issues, this is one more way in which e-signatures are more secure than you might have recognized.

Having concerns about security issues when new technologies become available is entirely rational. If you’ve relied on traditional signatures for years, you might wonder why you should switch to a new solution if you don’t know it’s just as safe.

Nevertheless, it’s become increasingly accepted by industry observers that if security is a concern, using e-signatures is likely the wisest option.