How to make sure your information stays safe doing online schooling

Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 13:24:27-04

BOISE — Online learning kicks off for some students this week, and clicking into that first day of school comes with a few security risks.

"We're not going to be able to prevent 100% of attacks, but we can prevent 99.9% by just doing these common-sense things," said Kevin McCarty, a computer science professor at Northwest Nazarene University.

Some pieces of data are more targeted than others. Mccarty says things like your lecture PowerPoint or a student's last name won't be valuable. What is valuable is information like full names, pictures, addresses, and social security numbers.

"Everyone has a social security number, even small children, so that information needs to be protected by essentially separating it from your run of the mill stuff," said McCarty.

The best tip for students - don't use your school computer for anything besides school.

"Don't just use it for general browsing or going to order things online or whatever it is you're going to do," said McCarty, "Keep the usage of that computer kept to a minimum."

Make sure you have malware detection software installed and that your connection is as secure as possible. It'll be a few extra steps, but the hassle is worth the added security.

"Use strong passwords, use dual authentication if you can, make sure you use the school network, only use the computer for school stuff, and if you do that, I'd say you're pretty darn safe," said McCarty.

Mccarty and his students worked with the Nampa School District last year to secure their platforms.

"The one benefit that they got is they understood being careless can lead to more problems," said McCarty, "So they've taken steps to make sure their teachers are much more careful."

For all districts starting online, there's not necessarily a bigger threat there, but there's always a need to keep the information secure.

"Most of the online learning material is what is considered to be low value," said McCarty, "What's high value is the networks themselves."

Nampa School District has reached out to provide additional information. Nampa School District says their district already had a policy and procedure in place to ensure strong passwords, dual authentication and more. Here is a link to an additional story with Nampa on their security measures.