College Cybersecurity Tactics – Get Educated, Not Hacked

Going to college is your time to start learning about the world. One of the things that you should learn about the world is this: people are going to steal from you. In the digital world that we live in this theft occurs online, necessitating the need for cybersecurity.

You don’t have to going to college for any sort of IT related education in order to follow the cybersecurity tactics I will be covering in this article. Keep reading so that you don’t get hacked while you get an education.

Cybersecurity for college: Device location

The typical college experience shares a room with a roommate, that room is shared within a dorm, and that dorm is part of a larger campus. Each of these settings allows the opportunity for other people to access your devices. The very first thing that you need to do is know where your devices are, and to secure them physically.

The next thing that you need to do is to make sure that they’ll have some sort of lock screen turned on. If you get up from the study hall to go to the bathroom you don’t necessarily want to take your computer with you. A lock screen can protect you. The lock screen on your phone can protect you if you happen to put it down at a party.

Making better password choices

This applies to both your devices and your accounts. The time to use your dog’s name as your password, or your birthday, is over. Here’s what you should do:

  1. All of your password should be at least eight characters long, and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  2. You’re need to start using multiple passwords for different accounts and devices. A password management tool can assist you with this.
  3. Never share your password with anyone. Not your roommate, not your RA, not your professor, no one at all.

Two-step authentication

If the two points above fail you, two-step authentication can still protect you. Two-step authentication adds another layer of security. It makes it so if someone has your device they have to have access to something else of yours in order to gain access.

Google has been using two-step authentication for six years, here they are explaining it:

It’s more than just Google, dozens of online websites and apps will let you use two-step authentication.

Use a secure network

The chances are good that you are going to connect to a wide variety of networks during your time at college. Your first step is always going to be making sure that you connect to a secure network. Always check who manages the network before you connect to it.

Once you connect to a network which you do not personally control, you need to use a VPN to give yourself encryption. These tools will protect you if someone tries to hack your wireless connection, especially this type of hack:

As you can see, this type of hack isn’t that difficult to do. You just learned it in 20 minutes!

Be aware of phishing attacks

Phishing attacks are related to social engineering. They use language which manipulates you into thinking that they are genuine, but they are in fact just trying to steal your data. They usually come through email, but text messages and social media are being used more.

Phishing attacks can also lead to malware which can lock up your computer in the form of ransomware. If something sounds too good to be true, you have to question it. If it’s a message from your college, but it doesn’t quite seem like something they would ask, you need to speak with them directly in the office.

Analysis of links

You’re going to be sent hundreds of links during your college career as people try to help you find resources to learn more. Be aware of the fact that sometimes these links will be malicious on purpose, or even by accident.

If someone sends you a shortened link you can analyze it before you open it. CheckShortURL is a website that can help you. You can also hover your mouse over top of a link and your browser should display the full address in the bottom left hand corner.

Back up your work

Backing up your most important documents will help you if you suffer from a ransomware infection. This is when someone remotely locks your computer with encryption, and demands that you pay a ransom in order for you to gain access to your files.

You can backup your work using a secure cloud provider. For off-line storage use either a thumb drive or external hard drive. You will have to make sure that these are well secured in your room since they hold important information.

Sharing on social media

Social media is a great way to share information, but it may be better if you share things after-the-fact rather than before in a public setting. Why put up a public post saying that you and your roommate have left your room for the weekend? This isn’t just an issue for hackers, this is an issue for thieves in general.

So… Your room is empty for the weekend? Plenty of time to steal your device, hack it, and get it back in before you realize!

The other thing that you’re going to want to consider is that one day you will graduate from college, and you will enter the workforce. When you apply for a job people who are looking to hire you are going to look at your social media. Think about this every time before you share something.

Update everything

You need to turn on automatic updates for your operating system, your antivirus software, and your apps. Most of the updates about becoming info before cybersecurity purposes. Software is updated as more malware and weaknesses are found.

You also need to be sure to scan your thumb drives, external hard drives, and all your other mobile devices with your antivirus software.

Cybersecurity in college

I know that cyber security is not the first thing that you think about when you think about going to college. I know the first thing that I thought about was girls, parties, and girls. I never got any of those three things, nor did I have much cybersecurity… But that’s besides the point.

In 2017 you need to use college cybersecurity tactics that will keep you protected. You’re learning how to make it in the real world, and cybersecurity is always going be a part of it.

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