Having a lock, and a sock, on your door is one type of college security. Hopefully, your dorm takes care of the lock for you. The type of college security that you need to look at on your own is digital college security. Your parents are no longer around to help me with this, it’s up to you. Keep reading and I will make sure that you have a secure digital experience at college.
Digital college security for your new school year
The very first thing that you need to consider is the physical security of your mobile devices. Typically, you’re going to be sharing a room with another person. This means that all of your devices need a lock screen. You need to use these locks in your room, in study hall, or anywhere else you go. You don’t want this to happen…
I opened my phone and saw this typed out who usED MY PHONE pic.twitter.com/BOGC7TebL1
— ✨Ria✨@ Sacanime (@riasaur) August 12, 2017
Wonder who tf done had my phone and opened up alllllll my 347 unread messages 🤔🤔 tf going on
— 💖Nicoleeeeeee♍️ (@iamladii_kayy) July 31, 2017
People may open your devices out of curiosity, or they may do it maliciously. You need to protect yourself with a lock screen.
Choosing stronger passwords
The days of using ‘password’ as your password are not only over, they were over a decade ago. This applies to the password you will use for your devices, as well as all of your logins. You run the risk of someone logging into one of your accounts and affecting your college career negatively. Here’s what you need to do:
- The password should be at least eight characters long. Longer is better, and be sure to use upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Come up with a phrase rather than a single word.
- Use a password management tool so that you can have multiple passwords for different accounts and devices. This way if a hacker does get hold of one of your passwords they will have access to only one of your accounts.
- Do not share any of your passwords with anyone at all. Not your professors, not your RA, and especially not your roommate.
At the moment, passwords are the only good tool for protecting your accounts and the data in them. Your digital college security depends upon them.
Using two factor authentication
Good password choices will form the basis of your digital college security. The next step up is two factor authentication, think of it as a password for your password. This adds another layer of security for your accounts. Let the experts at AVG security explain it a bit more:
Many websites now use two factor authentication. Be sure to use it everywhere that you can in order to better protect your digital college security experience.
Using secure Internet connections
You may be used to only using the network at home, and maybe the one at high school. Once you start living in a dorm you are going to find that there are many networks in your area. Networks that you have no control over.
In order to gain some control you need encryption. Encryption will be able to help protect you from man in the middle attacks. These attacks happen over networks that you don’t control.
The way that you will get encryption is with a VPN service. The VPN will encrypt your entire connection and keep you protected no matter what network you choose to use.
Phishing attacks are a common college security issue
Phishing attacks are when hackers send you malicious messages. Commonly, they will send you some sort of message pretending to be from your school. They will then ask for your:
- Credit card details
- Banking information
- Password information
Once they trick you into giving that up they will then use that information against you. If you’re ever unsure of whether or not an email is actually from your college, your bank, or anyone else asking for sensitive information simply do not respond to the message. Pull out your phone, use it as an actual phone, and call the person or company directly.
Scrutinize links that are sent to you
You are going to be sent hundreds of links during your time at college from classmates and professors. Sometimes, these links can be malicious on purpose, or by accident. All too often links are shortened using link shortening services and shared without thought. Improve your digital college security by doing this:
- Use CheckShortURL to check whether or not it is safe.
- Hover over the link with your mouse. Your browser should display the full URL in the bottom left-hand corner.
- Do not click on links that you are unsure of. Do your own web search to find similar content if it’s important.
Harmful links can download malware onto your computer and completely ruin your digital security.
Social media security and information sharing
We all love to share things on social media, but when you are in college with people following you online that know where you live… It can get a bit scary. I’m not just talking about hackers, I’m talking about stalkers as well.
i'm in study hall with no work so im going to be up here chatting.
— #4™ (@Dontee_4) July 26, 2017
The post above has two problems. The first is that someone could come to his study hall looking for him with some sort of malicious intent. The other problem is that people know he is out of his room and they can go in there to steal things.
You can also try to be a bit smarter and not say things on social media that your teachers could read…
almost every schedule i've seen including mine has 8th period study hall w mrs petrie… this is going to be absolute hell
— maddy mcdaddy (@mcfadden_maddy) August 18, 2017
Good digital college security includes regular updates
Most updates that you get for your operating system, antivirus software, and apps is being sent to you for security reasons. As developers discover new vulnerabilities they push out updates to protect you. Authorize updates as they come.
This applies to every piece of digital technology you will use. Your laptop, thumb drive, tablets, and smartphones should always be updated.
Regular backups of your work
If you don’t make regular backups of your work, it could wind up being lost to ransomware attacks. These are pieces of malware which lock your computer down with encryption. The hackers then demand a ransom for you to get your files back.
When you have a backup of all of your files you will not have to worry about the ransom so much. Make sure that they are off-line. An external hard drive is a good choice. You will also want to put a lock on any device which has important backups on it. If you use cloud backup storage be sure you know how to protect it.
Digital college security tactics for everyone
You don’t have to be going to college for IT in order to have good security tactics. The points we looked out above are things that anyone can, and should, do. Be sure to implement them on your first day of college, and you will be protected all year long.