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Preparing Students for Cybersecurity Best Practices in the Hybrid Workplace

Students are more connected than ever. Graduating seniors will no doubt encounter wholly new office dynamics compared to pre-pandemic work environments. Some new grads may find a work-from-home opportunity, while others are most likely to find a hybrid work format.

The hybrid workplace for early-career employees means relying on connected devices from a home office. The devices that drive virtual meetings and workspaces have all become mainstream. According to recent data, these devices or “smart home systems” are set to continue to rise to a market value of $157 billion by 2025.

Additionally, as the demand for this technology grows, the number of installed connected devices in the home is expected to rise by a staggering 70 percent by 2025. In this new normal where smart devices and consequently online safety are a must, here are some tips for securing those devices.

Remember smart devices need smart security

Students may not be accustomed to making cybersecurity a priority when purchasing a connected device. Students should be better informed on what to look for with a smart device. When setting up a new device, be sure to set up the privacy and security settings on web services and devices bearing in mind that you can limit who you are sharing information with. Once your device is set up, remember to keep tabs on how secure the information is that you store on it, and to actively manage location services so as not to unwittingly expose your location.

Put cybersecurity first in your new job

There are a gamut of challenges when starting a new job. While most employers now require some form of mandatory cyber security training, students should think beyond the “check the box” workforce training course. Making cybersecurity a priority when you are brought into a new role is critical. Good “online hygiene” should be part of any organization’s onboarding process, but if it is not, then take it upon yourself to exercise best practices to keep your company safe. Some precautions within this hygiene routine include performing regular software updates, and enabling multi-factor authentication or MFAs. Few students take advantage of keeping their devices updated with the latest patches, and even fewer set up MFA, unless it is required.

Make passwords and passphrases unique and strong

Shockingly 61 percent of people in a recent survey admitted to using the same password across multiple services. Students need to be educated and informed about the risks of “laissez-faire” or poor password management. Whether or not the website you are on requires it, be sure to combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create the most secure password. Generic passwords are easy to hack. If you need help remembering and storing your passwords, don’t hesitate to turn to a password manager for assistance.

Never use public computers to log in to any accounts

Students, accustomed to working on projects and assignments with a personal laptop at their favorite coffee shop, or library may not understand the risks this practice creates for the working professional. While working from home, students may be tempted to change scenery and work from a coffee shop or another type of public space. While this is a great way to keep the day from becoming monotonous, caution must be exercised to protect yourself and your company from harm’s way. Make sure that security is top of mind always, and especially while working in a public setting, by keeping activities as generic and anonymous as possible.

Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when idle

Similar to casual management of devices and passwords, even fewer people actively turn on and turn off these settings on smartphones, tablets and laptops. The uncomfortable truth is, when WiFi and Bluetooth are on, they can connect and track your whereabouts. To stay as safe as possible, if you do not need them, switch them off. It’s a simple step that can help alleviate tracking concerns and incidents.

Cybersecurity is a Team Sport

Students in new jobs will hold more liability and responsibility to follow best practices when starting a career. The risk of a personal cybersecurity breach is significant however, the risks of being responsible for a company-wide security breach may be even greater. Students need robust and valuable training in cyber-security best practices to succeed in the new, hybrid workplace.

These are just a few simple steps towards achieving the best online safety possible. Staying safe online is an active process that requires constant overseeing at every stage – from purchasing and setting up a device, to making sure that your day-to-day activities are not putting anyone at risk. By following these steps, you are doing your part to keep yourself and your company safe from malicious online activity.