Essential Cybersecurity Tips for College Students

College can be great, but it is an undeniably very hectic time in our lives. Between attending lectures, studying and taking exams, and using our precious free time to unwind and catch up on our social life, it is very easy to push very important issues like safeguarding our electronic devices and protecting our personal data. We have compiled a list of tips specially designed for college students so that you can keep safe while focusing on your studies.

1. Prevent Physical Access to Your Devices

Being a college student involves spending long hours in the library and leaving your laptop and your smartphone in your dorm room. The problem with this is that these are shared spaces, so it is easy for malevolent people to gain physical access to your devices – so you need to be prepared. Instead of packing up your laptop and dragging it with you every time you need to use the restroom, invest in a good cable lock to make it harder for thieves to steal. You can also install a small safe in your dorm room to store your valuables inside while you are away. This is a security aspect that is often overlooked but it is crucial for college students – and can be easily addressed.


2. Not Sharing Is Caring (About Your Data)

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More and more of our activities are taking place online. We use social media and emails to communicate, apps to transfer money or book a ride, we even do our grocery shopping online. Yet that data we put in is vulnerable if the companies do not have safeguards in place. 69% of consumers believe that businesses could fall prey to cybercriminals and only 10% think that they retain absolute control over their data, while 45% of people believe that their email or social media accounts are likely to get hacked in the following twelve months. So be wise. Share only what you need to share and make sure to check the privacy settings of the apps you use and dial back on the amount of information they have access to.


3. Check Your Online Security

It is convenient and fun to use online apps, and there are many services that you can get on a smartphone app these days – but you have to be mindful of how secure they are. This is especially true if you share sensitive data, like banking information. Before you decide to download an app, do some research: Make sure it comes from a trusted source (not only the developer, but the source of the download too), and that the company takes cybersecurity seriously. You’ll want to make sure they use tools like a Web Application Firewall, which protects apps against layer attacks and allows companies to become PCI-DSS certified to handle your card details securely. It goes without saying that when you are sharing sensitive information on the web, you need to make sure that you have a secure connection, so always check for the “https://” at the start of the URL and the padlock icon on the top left corner.


4. Backup, Backup, Backup

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This is the mantra of every college student, but sadly one that everyone knows but no one seems to follow properly. Even if you lose your smartphone, that can more or less easily be replaced – but a hacker gaining access to your personal data can be devastating, especially when it is term time and you have to rewrite a paper in 24 hours. Luckily, today it is easier than ever to back up your data. USB drives have increased in capacity, so simply invest in a 64GB, 128GB or even a 512GB one if you can afford it and plug it in before you leave the library. If you have more data to store, go for an external hard disk or look into cloud storage. There really is no excuse.
It is not hard to take some extra time to make sure that you are safe when browsing the web or using online apps if you know what to do. And when in doubt, you can always ask your college’s IT services for advice and tips.

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