Tips on how to securely online study

Posted on March 23, 2020

Cyber hygiene when studying online is just as important as physical hygiene for preventing virus infections.

Security sources indicate that cybercriminals are already taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to launch phishing campaigns and spread malware. With masses of people working from home, hackers are aiming to exploit the home environment, where security might not be as tight as in the corporate or campus environment. 

Some basic measures will help you to keep safe when working from home:

  1. Uphold good practices like using strong passwords, allowing updates from reliable sources to run on your devices, using up to date malware protection, and not clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited email received.
  2. Be wary of phishing attempts by checking the sending address, considering whether a request is unusual, not letting curiosity replace common sense, and generally choosing to be safe rather than sorry.
  3. Be aware of new cyber threats emerging because of Covid-19. Examples are invitations to view important news on the pandemic on malevolent sites (e.g. a free official South African site), requests for donations to the World Health Organization, and apps that allegedly allow you to trace infected people in your vicinity, but then lock your device and demand a ransom. Always consider an unusual web address a warning sign. Also, be vigilant of criminals pretending to be officials under the guise of conducting Covid-19 home screenings.
  4. Use only trusted Internet connections, such as your home Wi-Fi that has been password protected or a personal hotspot. Avoid the neighbour’s or public unsecured Wi-Fi. If you cannot avoid using public Wi-Fi from your mobile phone, use a VPN solution. Recommended VPN apps for mobile phones are ExpressVPN (paid) and Tunnelbear (free).       
  5. Note that the Student Helpdesk remains available to assist you during normal working hours.  

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