Part 3 of a 3-Part Series
Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. I’ve never been to college but I would love to play Frisbee with some of the students. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies.
In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.
In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. Part two focused on personal safety while in college. For this final entry, we cover college safety relative to cyber security. Despite my lack of opposable thumbs, I find this topic extremely timely.
Each year, college IT departments deal with hundreds or thousands of new and returning students who show up with laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets—all of which need to connect to the campus network. This is a scary proposition where online security is concerned, so students should prepare to eliminate risks, both for their own safety as well as that of their college.
College Safety Online
Most college students today are infinitely more familiar with computer equipment than most of their parents and grandparents. JR has used Snapchat since he was a pup. Unfortunately, this familiarity can breed contempt, as most assume that cybercrime happens to other, less computer-savvy people. In fact, they are often referred to as “the click generation,” because they are so quick to click on website links and social media before considering the consequences. Another habit that puts them and their computers at risk is the sheer number of hours they spend online.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has an aggressive cyber security branch, which focuses on cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure, both of which are vulnerable to a wide range of risk—stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards. Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services. The DHS current cyber security campaign, Stop. Think. Connect encourages Internet users of all ages to take responsibility for their own cyber safety.
Here are five tips to follow, to help keep college kids safe while they are online:
- Keep a Clean Machine—Utilize malware software. Run regular security scans. Scan every device before inserting into a computer. Think twice before inserting an unknown flash drive into any computer. Not only should the source who provided the flash drive be trustworthy, but his or her cyber habits should be beyond reproach. This seems like common sense.
- Protect Personal Info—Secure accounts with strong passwords. Change passwords often. Don’t write them on Post-it notes placed next to the machine. Set stringent security protocols on laptops, tablets, phones and desktop computers. Hackers and identity thieves can only access information provided over the Web. Stick to online activity that doesn’t require full name or contact information unless you are using a trusted site for online purchases, such as PayPal, eBay or and Amazon. Be skeptical of an unknown site that asks for email, credit card number or home address.
- Connect with Care—Refrain from clicking hyperlinks sent in emails. Avoid doing anything of a personal nature while using a public hotspot. Make sure connections are secure (encrypted) whenever doing online banking or paying bills. And even while using a trusted social media platform, avoid revealing items of a personal nature such as school name, favorite hangout spot, and make/model of your car.
- Be Web Wise—If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sounds like the free steak’ website I read about was a hoax. Students should think twice before ordering online from an unknown vendor. Trust your gut. Use only trusted websites. Keep abreast of known Internet threats. Think before typing or clicking.
- Be a Good Online Citizen—Apply the *Golden Rule to everything done online and in person, too. Help fight cybercrime by reporting anything unusual to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Students should also contact campus safety department and IT department for the best practices and tips recommended for their specific institution’s systems.
*Do unto others as you would have done to you.
Remember that safety in the 3D world, as well as cyberspace, is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.