The new school year is an exciting time for students, faculty, and staff. It’s also an exciting time for hackers, identity thieves, and other unscrupulous types who take advantage of people during this busy time of year. Schools in general already had significant cybersecurity issues and, according to Wired Magazine, things have become worse with COVID-19. With so many people working remotely, the pandemic has amplified these issues making it especially important to be vigilant this year.
Watch out for typical beginning-of-the-school-year scams:
- Emails supposedly containing “a problem with registration”.
- Scams specifically designed to cheat students out of money, such as scholarship scams, fake “tuition payment processors”, textbook rental or book-buying scams, housing scams, tutoring scams, and work-from-home scams.
- IRS impersonators demanding that students or their parents wire money immediately to pay a fake "federal student tax".
- Messages with links to fake login pages.
- Messages asking for your login information, no matter how legitimate they may look. No one other than you needs to know your passwords.
- Fake friend requests on social media.
- Fake Box or Google Doc notices.
How to stay safe:
The best way to avoid scams is to approach all unexpected messages, offers, and phone calls with a healthy skepticism. Helpful habits include:
- Always think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments, even if they look like they're from someone you know. If you’re not sure, contact the sender by a different method you know is legitimate to confirm they sent it (e.g. they send an email, you make a phone call).
- Verify requests for private information. Remember, con artists know how to fake their identity.
- Protect your passwords. Make them long and strong, never reveal them to anyone, and use different passwords for different accounts. Also use multi-factor authentication (MFA) where possible.
Take the quiz on this Article. The prize for passing the quiz is one entry in a drawing for one of six HyperX Gaming Headsets so you can have fun from your living room!