Today, life without the internet is unheard of. With the rising demand for internet connectivity and the growing number of cyberattacks, the imperative for safe browsing has become more crucial than ever. While unauthorized access and stolen sign-ins have become dime-a-dozen in all domains, it has been estimated that about 60% of data breaches are associated with the education sector. Delving deeper into the education industry, one can realize that college students are more susceptible to such attacks. With measures such as checking the SSL certificate and using a strong password, college students can safeguard their devices against potential cyberthreats.
Cultivating Cybersecurity Awareness amongst College Students
Today, college students can be seen storing files, downloading online lectures, maintaining digital notes, and creating presentations frequently. So, cultivating cybersecurity among such tech-savvy students has become inevitable.
Cybersecurity awareness can enable students to safeguard academic as well as personal information from potential threats and breaches. Apart from protecting the data stored on devices, awareness mechanisms can ensure the privacy of online educational material and virtual classroom privacy. A robust cybersecurity framework helps foster career preparedness for students, equipping them with the desired professional skills. Additionally, a significant upgrade in tech adaptability and proficiency amongst the youth can enhance our nation’s technological literacy.
In the same vein, this will give them a fair idea about the labyrinthine network that connects the different nooks and corners of the world and makes them an inseparable part of what we know as the ‘global village.’ With a deeper understanding of global interconnectedness comes the need to mitigate the risks of cyber threats and potential fraud. And how can we forget that this aspect is the foundation of responsible cyber behavior?
Henceforth, it can be said that cybersecurity awareness is no more a skill. Instead, it has become a prerequisite for college students in this digital landscape.
Cybersecurity Strategies for College Students
Outlined below are some cybersecurity awareness measures for college students:
Securing the IoT devices.
First things first, one should always try to secure their devices and accounts from their end. This can be done by setting a strong password. People, especially students, often set passwords that can be easily decoded. Passwords that contain solely numeric characters or alphabets are considered weak passwords because of their high susceptibility to being cracked. In addition to that, they tend to use the same password for multiple accounts. Repeated use of a particular password can pave the way to data breaches. Cybercriminals can break into multiple accounts in one go using the same password. This is the reason behind the financial frauds and identity thefts occurring frequently nowadays.
Hence, it is recommended to use a combination of alphanumeric and special characters to form a strong password. Such passwords are difficult to guess. All those students who are forgetful about passwords can rely on password managers such as Dashlane. Such managers can also help generate passwords and store them for easier access. One needs to remember a single password/PIN to unlock all the stored passwords and PINs.
Choosing screen locks and biometrics.
While lock screens and biometrics seem like an inconvenience, they can help in fostering safe and secure browsing. Lock screens demand a password, a PIN, or biometrics in the form of a retina scan or fingerprint identification. It helps keep people out of your phone, laptop, and other devices.
Moreover, if one loses possession of their device, they can rest assured that their data will not fall into the wrong hands if the device is locked. Even if a cybercriminal ends up decoding your password or PIN, biometrics can act as a shield against data theft. Henceforward, it is recommended to opt for biometrics on all your devices.
Block ads using a privacy assistant.
Most of the ads that you see on a website are meant to collect data in the form of your tastes and preferences. To stop seeing such ads, privacy assistants, such as ad blockers, etc., can be used. You can also customize the ads that you wish to see. Using this option, you can disable ads from companies that pose the biggest threat to your data, including the big giants. Notably, it is recommended never to accept cookies on a website, if given the option.
Check if a frequently visited website URL has https or not.
Cyberattacks involve tech experts using their skills to fetch pieces of sensitive information without the consent of the user. Most of the time, cybercriminals make use of keyloggers to obtain the typed-out usernames and respective passwords for your accounts via certain unverified websites. So, what should be done to verify whether a website is safe?
Simply click the tiny lock next to the word ‘https’ in the search box. One gets to see a dialogue box that reads, “Connection is secure.” This message is a type of certification that whatever information one enters on this website will remain private and secure. Herein, “http” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. And the character “s” implies end-to-end encryption. In computer terminology, this certification is called the ‘Secure Sockets Layer’ or the SSL certification.
For websites, especially e-commerce websites, an SSL certificate is of paramount importance since the website does ask the users for critical pieces of information such as CVV, debit card number, password, personal information, and other financial information. With such inputs comes the responsibility of safeguarding them and preventing any sort of data breaches. An SSL certificate is your gateway to a secure e-commerce website.
Installing antivirus software against malware and ransomware.
Cybercriminals put bait in the form of a clickable link, a deceiving email, or a fake phone call. All you are compelled to do is click, download, or answer back. Particularly, do not download any unsolicited attachments.
Many times, it is a malicious extension that steals data from your device. It could also be an infected ad or a link redirecting you to a scam website. So, one should be careful not to click on randomly displayed items or links.
Malware is a type of virus attack aiming to steal sensitive information by running in the background of your device. When it comes to ransomware, it messes up with the internal files of the device, hampering their accessibility until and unless a type of ransom is paid. With the proper installation of antivirus software on all your devices, one can keep such attacks at bay.
Backing up your device now and then.
One of the best ways to keep your device secure against any sort of virus attack is frequent backups. In this manner, even if your device gets infected, you can format it and restore all your data.
In the digital realm, it has become more than important to be cybersecurity aware. Always ensure the website you visit or provide data to has an SSL certificate. Save and scan anything and everything before letting it be a part of your device’s database. Use security customizations to safeguard your devices’ accounts. Always put a strong password on your lock screen, preferably a biometrics key. With these cybersecurity measures in place, one can use any device carefreely.