When you start college, you’re taking on new responsibilities, making your own decisions, and becoming part of the campus community. There is an important role that you can play in your college's cybersecurity efforts that combines these elements of responsibility, decision-making, and community.
When you’re in college, your computer and mobile devices are primary tools in your educational and social life. Students use the Internet for homework, research, social networking, online shopping and other activities.
The Internet is an amazing tool, but must be used safely and securely.
When you log on to the campus network (or any network), what you do online could impact not only your computer, but other students and the network as well. By combining up-to-date security tools with good judgment, you and your college community are much less likely to encounter a security violation, loss of data, or system problems.
The first step is STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the internet: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
- Lock down your login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
- Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
- Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.
- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer. You can alternatively use a service like a password manager to keep track of your passwords.
- Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit who you share information with.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
- Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.
- Help the authorities fight cyber crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and to your local law enforcement, state attorney general and campus police as appropriate.