As we begin the second quarter of school, it is worth taking a few minutes to think about digital privacy, security, and encryption. While these concepts are very much related, they are three distinct ideas. Privacy is about who you have given access to your information. When thinking about privacy, think about all the places you share information online and what controls there are on that information. A good example is when you share something on Facebook, think about who can see that post and how Facebook can use that post to find out information about you.
Security has to do with how hard it is to gain unauthorized access to your information. The first line of defense is your passwords. Good practice tells us that we need unique passwords for all our accounts, and those passwords should be hard to crack. A good rule of thumb is the longer the password, the harder it is to crack. For our most sensitive information, I suggest using a passphrase - a short phrase that is easy to remember. Also, I recommend using a password manager to anyone who will listen. It is very difficult to maintain a large list of passwords in a secure way without one.
Finally, encryption is all about protecting your data as it travels from one device to another. Encryption takes your information and codes it so that someone who may intercept it will not be able to figure out what it is you sent. When online, look for https or the lock symbol on a website before you enter any information you don’t want a bystander to see.