Top 5 Tips to Protect Your Identity on Campus
Back to school season is upon us, and while you are caught up in the enthusiasm of moving into your new dorms and ogling your class schedules, it is doubtful that the thought of protecting your identity is at the forefront of your mind. However, with 41% of adults having fallen victim to attacks such as malware, viruses, hacking, phishing scams, fraud and theft last year, it’s important to take practical action to keep your information safe on campus.
There are the Tips and obvious precautions to take in protecting your devices, such as never leaving a device unattended and not sharing passwords with friends, but there’s much more that can be done to ensure your identity remains private.
According to the 2014 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, over 574 million identities were exposed via breaches in 2013. Public university WiFi can be especially vulnerable to data breaches.
The best thing you can do to make sure that you are safe on a public WiFi network is to use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN essentially adds an extra layer of security to your connection to the public network. You can find a variety of VPN services online.
Using Firewall protection will aid in blocking any unauthorized access to your computer from malicious software or hackers. Norton Internet Security has built-in firewall protection.
HTTPS browsing adds an extra layer of security using encryption. To make it effortless, you can use a browser extension, such as HTTPS Everywhere(link is external). Using this browser extension ensures that you are using HTTPS when available.
Protect your passwords by using unique passwords for each account. If you have too many passwords to try to remember, try using a service like Norton Identity Safe that will securely keep track of them for you. Strong passwords are at least eight characters long and include a mixture of numbers, upper & lower case letters and symbols. Norton has a password generator to help take the guesswork out of figuring out secure passwords.
Installing a trustworthy antivirus software program is your best chance for making sure that your email is secure. Norton Internet Security will scan your inbox and attachments in real time for suspect files. Email is probably one of the most utilized tools among college students, but spam, viruses, phishing and spyware can find their way onto your computer through your inbox, so it’s important to know how to stay safe.
In addition to installing a reliable antivirus program, there are still some general “common sense” rules to abide by:
- Never open email attachments from sources you do not know or trust.
- Run all email attachments through antivirus software before opening.
- Be cautious of emails asking for information such as passwords, financial information, and flat out asking for money. Always confirm the identity of the sender before responding to any suspect email.
According to the 2013 Norton Report, 39% of adults do not take special precautions to protect themselves when accessing public WiFi.
Avoid automatically connecting to WiFi hotspots with your mobile device. If you are not aware that your device is connecting to any available network, it could be connecting to a malicious network specifically set up to steal your info. Not only should you approve all connections to networks, you should also verify that the network you are connected to is legitimate.
Norton Mobile Security protects Android devices, iPhones and iPads. The app helps you protect your data even if you do not physically have your device in hand. If you suspect your phone is missing or stolen, you can use the remote lock feature and lock anyone out of your phone. If you know for sure that your phone has been stolen, you can use the remote wipe feature to erase the phone of all of its data.
In addition to protecting the device in the event of theft, Norton Mobile Security also protects you while you’re using the phone. The App Scanner scans for apps that may contain malware, greyware and other privacy risks. Web protection blocks fraudulent websites that may try to trick you in order to get personal information. For phones that have SD Card options, the SD Card scanner scans for viruses, and other malicious threats.
Social Media Protection
With sites like Facebook averaging 175 million logins daily, social media accounts are an alluring target to hackers. Phishing attempts run rampant on these networks, all designed with one goal in mind- tricking you into clicking.
I am sure you’ve seen those messages circulating on Facebook and Twitter- “OMG I saw this crazy picture of you on my friend’s page. You should go check it out!” Included in the message is a shortened link that will redirect you to a fake page. If you log into the page with your credentials, the cybercriminal will now have complete access to your account.
Shortened URLs are widespread online, especially on sites like Twitter and Facebook. These links look like they lead to a legitimate site, yet they can redirect you anywhere. Often to the intended site, but sometimes they can direct you to sites that can lead you to malware. The best way to stay safe is to only trust links from accounts that are from people you know, verified companies or brands.
Protect your account by using Two-Factor Authentication(link is external) to log into your social media accounts. This protocol requires two pieces of information in order to log in to your account. This information is usually one piece you know (such as your username and password), and the second is a passcode sent to your phone or email. You can set up Facebook login approvals in the security settings.
Norton’s Safe Web for Facebook, which is integrated into Norton Internet Security, will scan your Facebook wall and newsfeed for suspicious URLs that may contain phishing sites, suspicious downloads and unsafe links to external websites.
Secure Backup and File Deletion
The most important thing to remember is to back up your files regularly, especially those term papers! Norton Online Backup performs automatic backups to secured online data centers. Available for both Mac and Windows platforms, files are backed up using a government grade encrypted backup and protects important files such as irreplaceable photos, documents, music files and other important data. Not only is it easy to use, students get 50% off.
Simply sending a file to the recycle bin (and subsequently emptying said recycle bin) does not erase the file completely. Fragments still remain on the drive until they are written over by another program. In order to securely delete files, you will need to use special software such as Norton Power Eraser.
The More You Know
Knowledge is power. And with great power comes great responsibility. Now that you have the power to keep your identity protected on campus, all you really need to worry about is whether you have any classes with your crush.
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