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News | Sept. 3, 2019

Time to Sharpen Pencils and Change Passwords

By Heidi Fosnaught, NSA/CSS Communications Officer

It’s here! Back to school season! It’s the season of new outfits, new bus stops, college campuses, and school supply lists. Every year those back to school supply lists grow. Today, we send our children to school with more than pencils and paper - we send them with tech.

Whether your children are in grade school or college, they likely have a school email address, access to the cloud storage options offered by the school, and probably a USB drive and/or laptop to carry with them. Be sure to talk to them about these ten best practices for keeping their information and projects safe and secure.


  • Use unique passwords for each account (combine letters, special characters and numbers) – and change them periodically
  • Store passwords in a password manager for easy reference
  • Backup files on a regular basis
  • Don’t share USB drives
  • Install virus and spyware protection on all laptops and home computers
  • Keep antivirus software up to date and perform scans regularly
  • Turn on firewall protection
  • Beware of phishing or malware attacks – don’t click on suspicious links in email
  • Check privacy settings on all social media accounts
  • Avoid posting personally identifiable information (PII) on social media accounts (social security number, birthday, place of birth, home address, phone number)

For more tips on how to keep you and your family secure, visit\cybersecurity and download our “Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure.