As universities and colleges continue to expand, online learning is an option that is likely to remain available. This poses a greater threat to personal student data regulated by the federal government. IT administrators are accountable for educating students and staff of the importance of safeguarding information and recommending practices they can adopt to protect it. Students themselves also have a role in taking precautions to keep their information private.
Here are 7 ways students can help protect their online privacy:
1. Be Careful What You Post On Social Media
Information shared on social media sites can be accessed by anyone, including identity thieves and scammers. Be mindful of the personal information you share, such as your address, birthday, phone number, and email address. So long as unauthorized individuals have access to it, you may risk identity theft or fraud.
2. Be Aware Of Phishing Scams
These are emails or websites that pose as legitimate companies or institutions to trick you into providing personal information, such as your login credentials or credit card number. Do not click on any links or open any attachments from suspicious emails. Scammers usually create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly, so be wary of any emails that try to evoke an emotional response. If you really must open the email, hover your cursor over any links to see where they will take you before clicking.
3. Use a Reliable VPN Service
A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts your internet traffic, making it more difficult for hackers to intercept your data. According to a survey, students who use a VPN are four times less likely to have their personal information compromised than those who don’t. There are so many options to consider when choosing a VPN service. Therefore, it is important to do your research to find one that best meets your needs. One of the best options, WireGuard is a new VPN protocol that is available for free on many platforms, including Android and iOS. Students can make use of this technology to keep their data safe.
4. Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Strong passwords are long, complex, and unique to each account. Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to input a code that is sent to your phone or email in addition to your password. Avoid using personal information like your birthday or mother’s maiden name when setting up a password. If you are having trouble coming up with a strong password, try using a passphrase of random words, such as “correcthorsebatterystaple.”
5. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are often vulnerable to attack since they lack the same level of security as a private network. Avoid accessing sensitive information, such as online banking or email, when using public Wi-Fi. If you must use public Wi-Fi, connect to a VPN first. Otherwise, opt for a 4G connection, which is more secure. Another important reason you should keep off public Wi-Fi is that these networks are often unencrypted, giving anyone on the same network access to your data.
6. Keep Your Software Up To Date
Keeping your operating system and software up to date is important for two reasons:
- New updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit, and
- Outdated software is frequently the attack target since hackers know that many people don’t update their systems.
An ppdated software is safer to use as it has all the security patches released.
7. Be Cautious Of What You Download
When you download files from the internet, they may contain malware that can infect your computer and give hackers access to your system. Before downloading a file, scan it with antivirus software. Only download files from trusted sources, such as official websites or app stores. When in doubt, do a quick google search to see if others have reported the file as safe.
7. Use Secure Websites
When entering sensitive information, such as your credit card number, be sure that the website is using HTTPS. This means that the data is encrypted and less likely to be intercepted by hackers. You can usually tell if a website is secure if the URL starts with “HTTPS” and a lock icon is next to it.
Maintaining your privacy online requires effort and vigilance, but it is worth it to protect yourself from identity theft, scams, and other cyber threats. By following the tips above, you can help keep your personal information safe while enjoying the digital world’s benefits.