Some of us remember college dorm days, when students were envied if they had their own typewriter. These days, college students must have a personal laptop computer, and a smartphone, and their lives revolve around these connected devices. Such dependency should be proactively protected from loss or theft. Campus security now means more than just being beware of who might be hiding in the bushes at night.
When you send your college kid off into the world, you want them to be prepared for life’s curveballs, and unfortunately, the occasional criminal too. How prepared are they? How prepared are you? Do you or they know that if they leave their GPS service on, some creep could be “following” them? Are they aware of how to lock down their devices to prevent identity theft?
For cybersecurity and personal security, college students should:
- Disable the GPS option on mobile apps unless the app is specifically meant to track for personal security reasons.
- Be very cautious about the personal information they share such as home address, dorm address, phone number and e-mail.
- Enable privacy settings on social media accounts.
- Learn how to manage cyberbullying.
- Realize that they are favored targets of identity thieves and often don’t realize they’ve been had.
How might students get hacked and how can they prevent it?
- They can fall for a scam via a campus job board, the institution’s e-mail system, off-campus public Wi-Fi or on social media. Be aware of what you click on.
- It’s easy for devices to be stolen; never leave devices alone whether it’s in the library or a café.
- Shoulder surfing: Someone peers over their shoulder in the study lounge or outside on a bench to see what’s on their computer screen. A privacy filter will make shoulder surfing difficult.
- Be careful when buying a used device (which can be infected) and simply taking it as is. Wipe it clean and start fresh with the installation of a new operating systems.
- If you’re not using your devices, consider keeping them in a lockbox or a hidden place instead of exposed in a shared living space like a dorm.
- All devices should have a password protected screen lock.
- Data should be backed up every day. Imagine how you’d feel if you lost that term paper you’ve been slaving over!
- Get a password manager, which will create strong, complex passwords unique to every account. And you won’t have to remember them.
- Avoid jailbreaking your smartphone, as this increases its hackability.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi for transactions involving money or sensitive information, since hackers could easily snoop on the data transmissions. A virtual private network (VPN) will prevent snooping by encrypting transactions.
All devices should have security software that should be updated automatically. Virus scans should be done every day, or at least no less frequently than once a week.
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