Ensuring Cyber Safety for College Students: 14 Essential Steps to Follow

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Remember the days when college meant a simple notebook and a trusty pencil? Well, times have changed. Today’s college students are armed with not just one, but often two or three devices, making them prime targets for cybercriminals looking to exploit their digital naivety. Despite considering themselves tech-savvy, recent studies have revealed that Gen-Zers and millennials are the most susceptible to falling for phishing scams, underlining the urgent need for cyber safety education on campuses.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance has alarming statistics to share – a staggering 20% of Gen-Zers have fallen victim to identity theft at least once. The digital landscape has given rise to an array of terrifying cybercriminal tactics that threaten students’ safety:

  1. Unpaid Tuition Notifications: Scammers exploit students by sending fake emails claiming unpaid tuition fees, putting their enrollment at risk.
  2. Fake Financial Aid and Scholarship Websites: Fraudulent websites lure students in, stealing personal information or planting malware.
  3. Fake Public Wi-Fi Networks: Hackers set up decoy Wi-Fi accounts in public areas to steal passwords and sensitive data.
  4. Social Media Scams: Cybercriminals gather private information from social media to either hack existing accounts or create new ones.
  5. Photo and Data Extortion: Hackers gain access to phones or social media accounts, stealing personal photos and blackmailing students for payment.

But why are these tech-savvy young adults falling for such scams? Here’s why:

  1. Lack of Cybersecurity Education: Many students have grown up using secured computers, leaving them unprepared for cyber threats.
  2. Social Media Overexposure: Being comfortable sharing personal information online makes them easy prey for data harvesting.
  3. Limited Credit History: Students’ limited credit history offers scammers a chance to open accounts in their name.
  4. Multiple Connected Devices: The plethora of devices provides cybercriminals with more entry points.
  5. Distractions and Priorities: College life’s focus on studies and socializing often leaves cybersecurity on the back burner.

So, what can concerned parents and guardians do to ensure their college-bound kids stay safe in the digital jungle?

While we provide robust cybersecurity solutions and round-the-clock monitoring for businesses, keeping a watchful eye on your child’s online activities at college isn’t feasible. However, you can empower them with knowledge and resources to navigate the online world securely. Here are 14 actions your college-goer can take:

  1. Invest in Strong Security: Get reliable virus and spyware protection, running scans weekly.
  2. Prioritize Updates: Never delay updates; turn on automatic updates for devices.
  3. Stay Current: Keep browsers, extensions, and operating systems up to date.
  4. Cloud Backups: Regularly back up data to the cloud to safeguard against attacks.
  5. Secure Websites Only: Avoid non-secure websites for credit card transactions (HTTPS:// only!).
  6. Public Wi-Fi Caution: Opt for personal hotspots or VPNs when using public Wi-Fi.
  7. Phishing Vigilance: Avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments; search instead.
  8. Strong Passwords: Utilize unique passwords and manage them with a password manager.
  9. Cookie Control: Regularly delete cookies to prevent potential hacking vulnerabilities.
  10. Safe Software Sources: Install software and apps only from trusted sources.
  11. Multi-Factor Authentication: Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible.
  12. Device Lockdown: Lock devices and avoid sharing passwords, even with friends.
  13. Webcam Privacy: Cover webcams when not in use to thwart potential prying eyes.
  14. Device Registration: Register devices with the school to aid recovery in case of theft.

Before waving goodbye to your college-bound student, make sure to go through this list together. While cybersecurity might not be high on their priority list, it’s a crucial life skill in today’s tech-driven world. A few minutes spent on these preventive measures can save them from potential cybercrimes that could disrupt their nascent journey into adulthood. As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve, imparting these essential cybersecurity practices is an investment in their future safety.

If your organization seeks comprehensive cybersecurity training, tailored for employees to comprehend risks and best practices, we’re here to help. Begin with a FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment – click here to get started. Remember, cybersecurity is a collective effort; let’s secure the digital future, one step at a time.

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