VDHS Information Technology warns students of internet vulnerabilities and offers two simple precautionary measures

By Hector Arrieta, Editor in Chief

Hacking has become a quite prominent issue in recent years in light of alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016  presidential election. The issue is highlighted with the accusations against the Trump campaign of collusion with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. However, hacking can occur in any setting and at any time, so it is important for students to act as the first line of defense against potential breaches in their privacy.

“There’s too much to lose: your personal information, quite possibly your financial
information, for maybe [the financial information of] somebody you’re working for, and you might have caused a breach that causes your company to lose money, so there’s a lot at stake,” says John Galloway, Verbum Dei High School Director of Information Technology. “There are bad people out there that are looking to exploit people’s weaknesses. You need to be careful with your internet security and with what we call your digital footprint.”

Galloway states that he seeks to inform students that the choices they make on the internet can affect their lives much later. He emphasized that there are people who seek to use individuals’ information against them. Therefore, he encourages students to get a password keeper in their phone to keep track of passwords.

Oscar Rosa, VDHS Technology Coordinator, states protective measures such as changing passwords frequently and consistently checking one’s email for unknown or suspicious mail. These are two simple measures that students should do regularly in order to ensure the safety of their information.

“One of the things that I discovered around my senior year was two-step factor authentication,” says Angel Soto, a tech-savvy Verbum Dei alumni and current computer lab proctor. “I activated it and linked it to my phone, so let’s say someone did get my
password, they would still need my phone number to access my password.”

Two-step factor authentication is just one of the forms of protection against potential email hacks and is present in email platforms such as Gmail. Soto also argues that teaching the importance of internet safety would reinforce defences against such breaches.

“I don’t think students understand the idea that their email is a direct link to them. Let’s say if you had a home, you’d want a door,” Soto said, “but not only would you want a door you’d want a lock on that door. You’d want as much safety as you can get, and the same goes for email.”

In the light of recent high-profile hacks in the United States, students should begin to take
more care of their personal information. In recent weeks, for example, all VDHS students were required to change their passwords for their school email accounts. However, preventing further hacks requires informing students on the dangers of the internet, and finding ways to protect themselves from these dangers.

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