Tips to Ensure Web Security and Privacy for College Students
Every college student has tons of personal information stored on their laptops, mobile phones, academic files, bags, and hostel rooms. Unfortunately, they do not get access to a highly secured campus network to protect their details. As a result, thieves and miscreants get an easy opportunity to steal the students’ identity and further commit a crime in their names.
Almost all the college students across our country use shared and open public networks unaware of the threat of malicious users and malware present. Due to that, they encounter incidents of network or database security breaches at least once in their graduation lifetime. The internal IT vulnerabilities are, of course, the main cause – which makes the universities urging everyone to practice changing their passwords and security settings and keeping an eye on their personal devices/belongings.
Generally, the students face a cyber threat from any of the following –
A campus-wide wireless network is a necessity for students to connect to their professors, friends, and family and also for educational purposes. But, it is as unsecure as any other public Wi-Fi because it exposes the students to malware attacks, identity theft, and more.
Computer labs can be a complex area to handle. The communal workstations may threaten the users’ information with key-logging software and virus-infected files. Besides, there can be tidbits of browsing history left behind in the system that enable cyber thieves to access and exploit it.
Hackers can make a way to your sensitive data, such as research papers left in the library or bank account details and credit cards kept in the dorm room. That opens all kinds of problems, including identity thefts, unauthorized purchases from your cards and other banking frauds.
Such a threat is directed to your photos, location check-ins, and updates on social media – commonly termed as cyber-bullying, where the stalker uses all the information against you. This can be terrifying and detrimental to your mental peace and overall health.
All these issues have caused many colleges to expand and adopt new web security policies. However, the institutions also require the students to take the onus of their online security and do their best to ensure safety on the campus network.
Some of the measures that cybersecurity experts suggest in order to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime are enlisted here –
- Lock your Devices
Laptops, mobile phones, desktops, ipads, and other electronic devices you use for your work are the ones most at risk. So, it makes complete sense to put a code or fingerprint lock on them to save your precious data, even in case of theft. Try always to implement a two-step authentication process.
- Update your Systems
This seems to be a complete no-brainer, but a lot of college students skip on a timely update of antivirus software and other operating apps – which is actually very important to avail the latest protection against viruses, malware and other threats. Hence, don’t make that mistake.
- Check your Bank Statements
Well, this should not be done just once in a while. Instead, make it a part of your everyday routine. Develop a habit of going through your statements once a day to be sure that there isn’t any suspicious activity and every transaction is entirely legitimate and with your permission.
- Make your Shopping Secure
Online shopping is a new-normal these days. And while it is a super-convenient and easy way for all, you have to be cautious the network you use and the website you purchase from. Avoid making transactions over public Wi-Fi. Install VPN instead and use the websites with secured servers.
- Safeguard your Payment Information
When making purchases with online retailers, most of the shoppers store their payment details for future use. This becomes the ultimate gateway for cybercriminals to peek inside and use these details for making fraudulent transactions on your behalf. So, for better financial security, never save it online.
- Improve your Password Strategy
It is recommended not to use the same password for all your email accounts and services. Also, do not use passwords that are easy to guess for hackers. Keep it at least 12 characters long with a mix of alphabets, numeric, and symbols. And if remembering all of them is hard, use ‘password managers’.
- Block Pop-ups from your Browser
Nearly all the browsers like Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer come with built-in settings for preventing pop-ups. That helps in to restrict unnecessary pop-up advertisements and prevent clicking on malicious advertisements. Thus, customize the settings in your browser to avoid missing any legitimate information.
- Backup your Data
Creating back-ups of critical documents and files is must if you want to keep the risk of malware or virus infections at bay. Store your work safely on any secondary storage drive or to the cloud. That will help you retrieve your lost data just in case a thief steals your device, or you happen to delete the data accidentally.
- Hold yourself from Oversharing
College students tend to use social media for a greater part of their day to keep in touch with their loved ones. But, uploading the little details about your life and everything else backfires too quickly – resulting in burglaries and stalking. So, it is best to limit the information you give away there.
- Handle your Data Breach
Campus servers are at high risk of a data breach; which means there is less that you can do to safeguard yourself against the cyberattacks. So, if you see a breach that has impacted your accounts, immediately change all the passwords. Check your bank statements and other sensitive accounts. Contact a data recovery specialist to trace any lost data.