3 security tools for the new normal students

THE global health crisis that the coronavirus has wrought will push about 27 million learners in the Philippines to rely largely on an Internet connection as they shift to a new normal of learning in the next quarter. Consequently, this also significantly increases unsupervised screen time.

Practicing cyber hygiene should be more emphasized, recommends cybersecurity company Kaspersky (www.kaspersky.com). Using stronger passwords, two-factor authentication, and virtual private networks (VPNs) are among the top three security tools to use, according to the multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider.

STRONGER PASSWORD, TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. In a Kaspersky survey, it showed that 38 percent personally use their computers while 47 percent personally use their laptops. For each person using the same device in one household, the company recommends that each user account should have its own separate password. Distrust is not an issue here, but family members may be tricked to give the password away or just accidentally leak it.

Experts at Kaspersky recommend that kids never create usernames out of their real names that may reveal their other personally identifiable information (PII) such as location or age.  On the other hand, enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) is like having a door with two locks in the account login process—one is a traditional password and the second one could be something else. When enabled, it means that an attacker has to figure out your password and be in possession of your device to be able to login into your account. Second authentications are usually codes sent via e-mail or SMS. There are also authenticator apps and hardware tokens which provide more features and useful options.

Which online accounts of individual users need two-factor authentication? Maybe not all. But for children going back to school soon, this additional layer of security will have to be enabled on their primary and secondary e-mails, as well as on their social media accounts which are being required by teachers for them to be able to join online classes. Meanwhile, parents or guardians will find that two-factor authentication is useful for securely accessing their online bank accounts and such.

WHAT’S A VPN AND HOW DOES IT WORK? Another security tool that is often overlooked is VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN works by encrypting your online presence.

A VPN masks your IP address by rerouting it through a specially configured remote server run by the VPN host, where the VPN server becomes the source of your data. This makes it impossible for your Internet service provider or any other third party to see what web sites you are visiting or what information you are entering. A VPN also works like a filter that turns all the data you are sending and receiving into gibberish. Even if someone did get their hands on this data, it would be useless.

Web-savvy users utilize VPNs for these top 4 reasons:

Security—for protection against phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, etc.

Privacy—to prevent spying and data theft

Changing/hiding the virtual location—so that the websites a user connects to can only see the VPN server’s IP address and location, not the user’s

Bypass local bans and blocks—so a user can still access websites such as Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia in countries where these are restricted, like in China.

Longtime Internet users have found that VPNs are among the best ways to protect online privacy and hide personal information from prying eyes.

HOW DO I GET A VPN ON MY SYSTEM? There are different ways to implement a VPN. One is to get a standalone which is advisable for home and small businesses. VPN extensions can also be added to most web browsers, while others like Opera come with their own already built-in. Having several devices on a single Internet connection would work best with a router VPN. Large enterprises have their VPNs customized. A number of VPN options are also available for mobile devices.

Security software providers like Kaspersky also provide comprehensive solutions with VPN features such as Kaspersky Total Security, which guarantees maximum security.

The VPN feature of this multi-device family security solution uses an “encrypted tunnel” to help protect the data you send and receive online. It helps you to hide your browsing—even from your Internet service provider—and stop hackers from reading your e-mails, bank details and personal data.

“Filipino children and their families, just like their counterparts in other parts of the world, are now bracing for a different learning experience. To succeed in the new way of learning, browsing the Internet safely and privately will have to be a part of their new student life. By incorporating the security practices of using stronger passwords, 2FA, and VPN into their digital life, it will be easier to just focus on learning and not really think about getting into trouble,” comments Mary Grace Sotayco, Kaspersky Territory Manager for the Philippines.

The latest version of Kaspersky Total Security is available in the Philippines for PC and Mac, and retails for P1,390 from leading IT stores nationwide. 

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