girl with hands to face

Lots of people are worried about being hacked. Interestingly, this worry does not seem to extend to avoiding writing passwords on post it notes ;-). After all, Yahoo has been in the news for multiple hacking situations.

So when something goes wrong, some go immediately to “I’ve been hacked”. This frequently is brought up by students as well. Here are a couple of hard earned tips to deal with students who have been “hacked”:

  1. Check to see if they have installed any extensions.
  2. See if they have “shared” their password (even if “only with” one person).

The first one is one of my favorites. We’ve seen this one many, many times. I’ll share a couple. One of the hacks was an extension that would randomly display a video famous person (I’m intentionally not naming the individual so as to help discourage the use of this one). The student would be working along and up would pop an obnoxious video. If the teacher was looking, the teacher could “see” that the student had don’t anything; the video had just “popped” up. What the teacher was missing was what the student had done previously (i.e. installed an extension to do exactly what the teacher is now seeing happen).

Another extension that some of our students found is an extension which would make a computer unusable. This extension would spawn the creation of lots and lots of tabs. When I say “lots and lots”, I really do mean lots and lots. The Chrome browser would be completely taken over.

I’ve heard for others with concerns, complaints and fears. Frequently, the “check to see if I’ve been hacked” line is used (so, far, this has never been the issue).

Please follow good security procedures. Don’t reuse the same password over and over in multiple places. Don’t write your password down on a sticky note and put that on your monitor. Don’t hide your password under your keyboard. (Quick story, I was presenting in a classroom some time ago. I moved the keyboard and saw all the passwords that a student would really want – access to grades, assignments, etc.)

Don’t immediately jump to “I’ve been hacked”. There is usually a reasonable explanation.

Be safe out there.