Each year on February 5th, the world comes together to celebrate Safer Internet Day – an awareness initiative striving for a safer internet experience for all. To encourage the use of technology in a safe, responsible and creative way requires the assistance of students, teachers, parents and worldwide leaders to all do their part in spreading the message of internet safety. This is a particularly important topic for college students.
While most young adults are already considered to be “tech savvy” individuals, there are still many factors that get forgotten in the process of protecting yourself from the dangers of the Internet. Over the years, cybercriminals have gotten increasingly wiser than the average internet user. Because of this, it’s more important than ever before that you learn to secure your data in a time of your life when you use the Internet most frequently.
Most Common College Internet Scams
Common scams that are targeted toward college students can occur even during the application process. Financial aid and scholarship scams have been on the rise as of lately. Affording college can be difficult for many. Students and parents are being forced to scramble for scholarships that will help them pay for tuition costs. Knowing this, scammers will pose as scholarship donors and trick unsuspecting victims into applying which forces them to give up financial and other personal information. Be sure to avoid anything that does not seem legitimate and if you are unsure, check with your high school guidance counselor or the college you are applying to.
There are a lot of scams that you are at higher risk of being exposed to on a college campus. The most likely being a phishing scam. Colleges are dealing with breaches almost every day. Hackers will break into their servers and send out malicious emails and viruses to students computers. These emails will often look quite realistic as if they have come from a trustworthy staff member of the college. They will likely contain a link within the email that they bait you to click on it. Be wary of any emails that ask for your login credentials, tell you to download something or threaten to suspend your account. Following through with these actions could lead to a virus on your computer or your personal identity reaching the hands of an identity thief. If you are wary of the trustworthiness of the sender, check with your campus IT department.
How to Stay Safe Online
Knowing now the dangers that you could be facing online, it’s time to look at the options you have for providing yourself with safer internet experience. You likely use multiple devices such as a laptop, mobile phone, gaming console, etc. Each of these devices contains your personal information and data. It’s important to treat each as so.
Protect your devices
First and foremost, if your device is not properly protected against viruses, malware, and other potential harms, make this a priority. For all of your devices create strong and unique passwords that are needed to access the device. This includes all of your accounts that you log into. Try not to repeat any passwords and opt for two-step authentication processes whenever possible. Data experts urge college students to download the necessary software such as antivirus and antispyware. This is the best way to filter out the harmful software that hackers may try to install on your computer.
You may also consider utilizing a virtual private network for any activities you participate in on public wifi. These networks can be some of the most vulnerable. For example, if you’re sitting at a local coffee shop working on writing a paper and take a break to check your bank account, this can be dangerous. Hackers often set up in these areas awaiting an unsuspecting victim to login to one of these accounts where they can then also break into your accounts and steal your personal data. A VPN can provide you with a secure and private network that you can browse on without fear of eavesdroppers waiting to attack.
Backup Your Data
Keeping your personally identifiable information secure is important with the right software, however, it’s also important to keep your data backed up and up to date. Should anything happen to your devices, you won’t want to lose the information that you have on there. Whether it is an important research project or photographs, you’ll want to make sure you have access to them again if this should be the case. The best way to do this is to invest in an external hard drive. Sync your devices to this on a regular basis and always save your work periodically.
To learn more information about Safer Internet Day and to find ways to get involved visit: https://www.saferinternetday.org/