Check Point Software provides five top tips to stay safe from cybercriminals this new school year

New Delhi, August 18, 2022 - Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, reminds students that as students return to school and in-person classes, this period of return to school is always a major focus for cybercriminals. Whether studying alone, taking part in online or face-to-face classes, students spend a lot of time connected to the internet and so they are highly exposed to cyber threats such as bank fraud, credentials theft, ID theft or social media account takeover.

According to Check Point Research, the Education/Research sector experienced the highest monthly attack volumes in both 2022 and 2021 globally. In July this year, it suffered almost 2,000 attacks per organization each week - more than twice as many weekly cyberattacks compared to the average of other sectors, and up 6% compared to July 2021 and 114% compared to the same period two years ago. 

It is a given that the pandemic has led to many online changes for education across the world, and especially here in India, but these changes have also meant that access into the school’s systems is now much easier, allowing hackers to infiltrate the school’s networks. Frankly all it takes for a school to be cyber attacked is for one teacher, student or parent to click on a phishing email created by a hacker, leading to a ransomware attack. With the large amount of data and personal information amassed by schools, hackers are tempted to steal this data for re-sale or even exploit it to orchestrate ransomware attacks. Schools are often under-resourced from a security perpective, making such attacks easy for hackers. Such attacks could lead to schools being closed for days or weeks to recover, leading to lost days of learning and added costs for schools which cannot afford to lose funding to such criminals.

 “Unfortunately, many students in India are not aware that they could be targeted by cybercriminals, let alone how to protect themselves,” says Sundar Balasubramanian, Managing Director, Check Point India & SAARC. “As is the case with the majority of cyberattacks, human error plays a significant role and students need to be on the lookout for emails and websites that appear strange. It’s also important to make sure that wherever you are studying, you have a secure connection and appropriate security software not just on your laptop but your phone and tablet too, and never ignore software updates.”

As students now return to in-person classes across India, Check Point Software provides five tips for students to stay safe online:

  1. Think before you click on a link: Phishing attacks, where criminals impersonate well-known companies to try and steal your personal data, are increasingly common, especially now that devices store a large amount of user information. For this reason, special care must be taken with URLs sent via SMS, messaging apps such as WhatsApp, or email, as they can be fraught with danger.  To avoid becoming a victim, always go to the sender's official website instead of clicking on the link in the message.
  2. Use a different password for everything: It is true that having to think of a different password for the platforms you use every day is a pain. It is hard to remember them, and it would be much easier to use the same one for everything. But there is no greater joy for a cybercriminal than to come across such a user. Any student who relies on a “one password fits all” approach could see all their accounts hacked in record time. Once an attacker manages to decrypt the combination of a victim's platform, they will try to access all of their accounts with the same key. To avoid this risk, it is essential to create a unique password for each app or service of at least eight characters that combines letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. A secure password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass can be used.
  3. Avoid downloading attachments from strangers: An email attachment from an unknown sender can be a gateway for all kinds of cyber-attacks such as malware or phishing attacks capable of infecting the entire device and stealing all the information and data stored on it. If, in addition, the device is used for teleworking or is connected to a larger network, it could cause more serious and more extensive damage.
  4. Never access unprotected public Wi-Fi: It is important to bear in mind that anyone, even a cybercriminal, can connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi. The main problem here is that by being on the same network, criminals can gain access to everything stored on your device.  There will always be a risk when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, so it is better to think twice before doing so.

Don’t surf unencrypted websites: It is vital to make sure that the website you are accessing has an SSL certificate. This technology ensures that the internet connection is encrypted and protects any sensitive information sent between two systems by preventing cybercriminals from viewing and modifying any data being transferred, including data that could be considered personal. It’s easy to spot it by looking at the start of the address line or URL which should show an "s" after the letters http. So only click when you know the site is genuine and you see: https://

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