Whether browsing social media or completing online homework, students spend much of their day plugged into their phones, tablets, and computers. While they are spending their time connected to these devices, many are forgetting to protect themselves from the many hidden dangers of the internet. Cyber security isn’t typically something one thinks of when beginning college. According to an article by Forbes, Millennials believe cyber security is imperative, yet more than half avoid common-sense computer safety measures. Campus safety now goes beyond walking home alone at night. Continue reading to learn about how you can be cyber-secure upon entering college.
Illegal Downloads Illegally downloaded movies, music, and textbooks can be bait for hackers. If an attack affects your computer it can put many other students on campus at risk as well. In a 2015 study conducted by Digital Citizens Alliance and RiskIQ, one in three torrent websites exposed users to malware. Forty-five percent of malware was delivered through drive-by downloads, which is a download that happens without a person’s knowledge. Drive-by downloads install malware onto a computer to rummage through files to find Social Security numbers and other protected information.
Password Protection Many think that if an account or device is password protected that they are safe from getting hacked, but that is not always the case. Experts recommend using a unique password for each of your accounts. A combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols makes it nearly impossible to crack. Avoid using common password formats, and do not use birthdays or names because it is easy for hackers to source this information online. Instead, use 12 letter phrases to create long and secure passwords. It can also be resourceful to use two-step verification when logging into certain sites such as Instagram. Two-step verification requires you to enter a code that is sent as a text to your phone. This makes it nearly impossible for a hacker to enter your account unless they have access to your phone.
Social Media Social media is more prevalent now than ever. Students are constantly posting and updating their friends about their lives through their social platforms. It is crucial to never post personal info such as: cell phone numbers, home address, name of your school, or any photos that could identify your location. Even if your account is on a private setting, it is not completely secure. Also, do not accept friend requests from people you do not know or have not met. This could expose you and your private information to people who shouldn’t have access to it.
Public Wi-Fi Many college students do much of their studying at local coffee shops near campus. Because logging into public networks puts you at risk, it’s important to be vigilant. Do not input sensitive info, download questionable programs, or visit illegal sites. Also, don’t assume campus computers are secure. If you’re working at a communal computer or workstation on campus, you may be exposed to infected software or files. To ensure you are not leaving traces of your digital footprint, search in privacy mode and clear your browsing history before logging off.
Cyber Security Affects Everyone Although it may seem that older generations need more computer assistance, younger generations are missing proper education in online safety too. As a young adult entering college, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure you are being as safe as you can be while using the internet and your devices. You can do this by avoiding torrent websites, protecting your social media accounts by making them private, and increasing the strength of your various passwords.
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