Heading off to college is a double-edged sword of excitement and fear of the unknown.
It won’t be anything like high school and, similarly, hardly at all like the adult life awaiting you after graduation.
Nevertheless, all these stages of life require a certain awareness and responsibility for your personal safety. No more so than in the modern day when nearly every aspect of daily life has gone digital.
Just as you must watch out for your physical safety when away from home, so too these days do you have to be aware of an attack from within. Your very own computer, despite seeming as innocent as it does, sat upon the desk in your dorm room on “sleep”.
#1 As IRL, So Online
Some trust in a non-existent safety net of privacy when they sit in front their laptops, believing that they can neither be seen nor found afterward, so engage in behavior they normally wouldn’t.
Firstly, cover up that webcam. Hackers can gain control of it and film/watch you while you’re working; or, indeed, sleeping or worse, if you tend to leave the lid up.
Secondly, pretty much most of your activity is traceable; somehow, by someone. Apart from the more sinister aspects of this truth, remember that even potential employers after graduation will be able to take a look at and follow your social media trail in some capacity. That’s right: getting deleting (though this doesn’t necessarily provide a clean slate) and double check your privacy settings.
#2 Cyber Security and Data Recovery
Rare is the college bound student who doesn’t realize the importance of strong anti-virus software; particularly as there will be a plethora of other technology around you. Nonetheless, for the avoidance of doubt, never think it will be okay, no matter how short a period, to be without such cyber security software.
You’ll soon find your hardware infiltrated and your data copied, stolen, or deleted. Rarely but sometimes that data theft can be used for malicious purposes, particularly if you social security details were included in the breach. If this does happen, quickly find the assistance of a computer forensics expert. Data theft or destruction is no longer a death knell for your missing information, but is prosecutable.
#3 Passwords, Passcodes
Passwords in the 21st century are entirely different entities to the passwords of the late 90’s and early noughties. This is no more relevant a point than when on campus and it’s every student for him or herself. Given the myriad permutations to choose from, it beggars belief that some people still think “iloveyou” is a hard password to hack. Hence, the multiple levels of security just to check one’s email these days.
However, it’s all for the greater good of keeping your data safe and private, so don’t rest on your laurels and claim that you’ll add a back-up phone at a later date. Do it today and keep those eager hackers at bay (even if it’s just printer credits they want to steal). The same goes for your Smartphone or Android (though, thumb/fingerprint methods are a step beyond that, too).