Security checklist for “Back to school”

The summer closes to end soon and we know that the next thing to happen is: children go back to school. Parents are always concerned (for good reasons) for what and how their children will do, and since a couple of years they have other concerns. Their children have smartphones, multiple online identities – parents are worrying about the security of these physical and digital assets.

Thinking of this, I created this checklist which parents and children (and not only) can easily go through and  easily improve their security.

Mobile devices

–          Password/PIN protect your laptop, smartphone, tablet

  • For laptops, use a good strong password. Learn here how to make one.
  • For smartphones and tablets, even if it is recommended to enter a password as well, sometimes is not very easy to enter a complex password. This is why you should enter a PIN. Don’t even think of 1234 or such. Think of a number that makes sense for you so that you can remember it. Please don’t write it on the back of the device.

–          Encrypt your device

  • Most devices support encrypting the internal and external storage either natively or with an external app. Doing so has the advantage that nobody can access your data even if the device is stolen or lost.

–          Physical security – enable location tracking your device

  • Enable Locate My Phone or whatever name it has on your device. In case the device is stolen or lost, this might be your only solution to find it.

–          Enable remote lock and wipe

  • Same as above and even done usually from the same interface, if you can’t get back the device then make sure that at least no private data remains on it.

–          Do not navigate on public unprotected WiFi without a VPN solution

  • Navigating without encryption means that theoretically anybody can snoop on your traffic if it is not encrypted. Fortunately, most social media websites use nowadays HTTPS.

–          Use a security solution

  • There are plenty of good security solutions that are able to scan any app you install. Some of them provide even some of the functionalities mentioned above.

–          Perform a full backup

  • Last, but not least, make sure that your device is fully backuped. You never know if it gets stolen or damaged. Best thing is to have an online backup running all time on your device. This way you are sure that you save the latest version of your data.


Online accounts

–          Activate two-factor authentication whenever possible

  • Two-factor authentication forces everyone to provide something only you know (like a password) and something that only you have (like your mobile phone or an app running on it). This combination is the only secure way to use online accounts these days, when  no service is unbreakable.

–          Be careful who are your “friends”

  • Do you really know everyone who is your virtual “friend” on social media? If not, then just erase it (unfriend) from your contact list.

–          Review regularly the type of posts your make

  • Facebook changes their defaults settings for post very often, and sometimes to the least you would expect. Always review before you click Post/Publish if the post is intended to be public or only for your friends or for groups.

–          Don’t post anything that reveals confidential information (location, schedule, etc.)

  • Sometimes publishing publicly where you are may indicate to a criminal that you are not home. This is like an invitation for them. Try to avoid such things.

–          Don’t post or write anything that you wouldn’t like your parents to see

  • Think twice before you publish something, especially if you are in a state of mind when you might not think clearly. If you are nervous or excited, just cool down for a few minutes and then see if you really want to post. When you post about someone, always think that you should only post things that you would like to see posted about yourself.


This article appeared in German in TCA Distribution.


© Copyright Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca
Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since over 20 years in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is CEO and owner of Endpoint Cybersecurity GmbH focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .
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