Hackers are increasingly targeting student email accounts, shared computers, and internal networks in schools in order to commit identity theft and other crimes. No wonder, the list of colleges in the database maintained by PrivacyRights.org Data Breaches keeps growing year by year.
Cyber attackers target educational institutions at a rate of approximately every three days as per the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center report. And in 2018, unauthorized disclosure rated the highest among the primary incident type.
While technology comes with various benefits, its adoption also introduces new risks to its users. Surprisingly, 95% of cybersecurity breaches occur because of human error.
So what can you do to stand up against the dreadful IT security threat while still benefiting from the latest technology?
Here are things every college student must learn about IT security:
Keep Yourself Informed
Most of the cybersecurity threats occur from user error, social engineering, exploits to web browsers, and other things that could have been otherwise averted by being an informed user of technology.
Thus, make sure you update your knowledge on cybersecurity by reading up articles on how to protect yourself from cyberattackers.
Furthermore, don’t ignore mainstream advice around avoiding clicking on suspicious links and maintaining secure passwords.
Secure Your Devices
Your laptops and mobile phones could be stolen anytime. As per the U.S. Department of Education data, in 2015, theft of personal property was the most common crime on college campuses. Since your mobile phones and laptops are a storehouse of personal information, if stolen, your identity is at risk.
Take precautionary measures, including:
Invest in a laptop lock.
Use laptop tracking software.
Encrypt your laptop.
Avoid keeping personal information such as SSN and passwords stored in files.
Backup your files on a remote hard drive and a trusted Cloud provider so that you can erase your laptop remotely.
Register your laptop with the Campus Security office.
Lock your phone screen with at least a pin that will be hard to decode.
Enable “Find my phone” feature in case your phone gets stolen.
Be Wary of Free WiFi
Free WeFi is available in every corner these days – Coffee shops, school libraries, fast food stalls, gyms, parks, museums, and other places students often visit.
But free public internet connections are not always safe. Hackers can use Man-in-the-Middle attacks to view and record information that you submit as you log in, chat, or send emails.
Moreover, when your device is vulnerable and connected to an unsecured wireless network, hackers can drop malware on your devices without you realizing it.
Be Mindful Of Phishing Scams
In the UK, students received phishing emails that tricked them into paying money for someone who pretended to be a representative of the university’s finance department. Such incidents are not only common but highly prevalent and are regularly used to dupe people.
To avoid such phishing scams, make a habit of screening your emails before opening them.
When you set up new email accounts or sign up for new services and apps, be extra careful about phishing scams. Don’t open emails received from someone you do not know, and don’t click on strange links or attachments in email messages. You might end up disclosing your private information and login data or even paying for fake services.
Create Complex Passwords
Creating a strong password is an essential thing you can do to secure your information in devices, but it is often overlooked. For the highest level of protection, create passwords that have no fewer than eight characters, using a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Simple passwords are easy for hackers to decode or guess. Using passphrases, such as a made-up sentence, is better than using random numbers. It is also easier to remember sentences. And change your password frequently, especially if several people have access to your system. You can also use password managers to create complex passwords.
Keep Your System Up To Date
Hackers are more likely to target computers that are outdated and have not had security updates. For instance, using an older version of the Chrome browser or security system is like inviting hackers to gain access to your data. They already know the ways to gain access to your computer. Allow automatic updates on your computer, if possible. Keeping your system up to date will take you a long way in securing your computer.
Stay Away From Dark Web
Dark Web is a part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines. It requires a browser like Tor and I2P to be accessed. Though Dark Web has a legitimate side, it is notorious for conducting malicious practices such as drug deals and selling stolen identities. According to The Guardian, stolen credit card details are available on the Dark Web, only for £1 each.
You can identify Dark Web sites as it ends in .onion. If you unknowingly visit a Dark Web site, your computer can be infected with malware. Even if you are not surfing the dark web, but the sites you regularly visit are hacked, you could be blackmailed.
Use Malware Protection
Ensure to have an antivirus with anti-phishing support installed on all essential devices, including desktops, laptops, and tablets.
Allow your device to update automatically and run virus scans at least once a week. You can also use script-blocking browser plugins such as AdBlock Plus or NoScript, which are effective at blocking certain types of web-based attacks.
Cybercrime is one of the biggest threats of the modern-day. But more often than not, cybercrimes occur because the internet user is careless or uninformed about the threats or cybersecurity best practices.
Securing your devices using the latest tools, keeping your system up to date, and using strong passwords can help a great deal in securing your information.
Also, don’t fall prey to email phishing, the Dark Web, and hold back yourself from using unsecured internet connections that are available for free.
If you are smart enough, you are less likely to be scammed or hacked. Make sure you are reading the latest blogs on cybercrime from good sources to be an informed internet user.