Like many other people, you share a lot of sensitive information with universities, colleges, and schools. For that reason, educational institutions and students are often targeted by malicious actors and hackers.
The consequences of a successful data breach can be dire. For example, permanent device damage, financial losses, and even identity theft. Therefore, it’s essential to do everything in your power to avoid digital perils.
Today, you’ll learn about cybersecurity hygiene and its best practices. We’ll also go over the best tools to ensure your online safety while on campus. So, get your digital loofa and scrub those pesky threats away!
Understanding cybersecurity hygiene
Just as personal hygiene is essential for maintaining good health, cybersecurity hygiene is crucial to sustaining the well-being of your data. It’s a series of routines protecting you against threats, breaches, and attacks.
In essence, cybersecurity hygiene involves educating oneself on cybersecurity matters, getting the right safety tools, or simply identifying & keeping away from various online dangers.
Most common cyberthreats
According to Microsoft Intelligence research, education is one of the most targeted industries in the US. In the last 30 days, around 8 million Microsoft devices have been affected by various digital calamities. Most of them happen due to simple human errors and lack of knowledge.
For that reason, you should know about the most common cyberthreats and ways to avoid them:
- Phishing attacks. A type of social engineering scheme that tries to trick people into revealing sensitive information such as user names, passwords, or financial details. For example, students can receive fake emails or messages from websites that impersonate educational institutions. The best way to identify and avoid them is to check whether their email looks legit or notice any grammatical errors in the body of the message.
- Ransomware attacks. Some files are malicious and can give hackers unlimited access to student devices. Ransomware attacks usually demand payment, as most of the files and sensitive data get encrypted by malicious actors. Therefore, students have to be careful when downloading files. Using torrents and other unverified sources is not recommended.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks. These might happen on unsecured wifi networks on campuses or schools. Malicious actors can intercept, eavesdrop, and riddle students’ devices with malware. We recommend avoiding public networks and using special tools that encrypt traffic to avoid such calamities.
Luckily, circumventing these perils is quite easy when you use the right tools and adopt the right practices.
Personal cybersecurity practices for students
As a student, you should take various precautions to protect your data and identity. For starters, stay vigilant when accessing suspicious emails and websites. If they look out of place or have many errors, report and delete them instantly. It’s highly possible that they are malicious.
Furthermore, always backup your data. Use secure cloud storage or get a hard drive. That way, even if you lose your information, you’ll still have access to some of it. On top of that, we recommend never leaving your devices unattended, as they can either be stolen or injected with malware.
Lastly, create strong passwords and don’t use them on multiple accounts. That way, even if your account gets breached, the other ones should be safe. Plus, enable 2 2-factor authentication (2FA). It will provide an additional layer of security.
Must-have cybersecurity tools for students
Sometimes, using safety practices is not enough. Therefore, you need additional tools that will keep your data, privacy, and devices protected. Let’s overlook the top cybersecurity tools for students.
Apart from getting rid of distracting ads and visual noise, an ad blocker is great for boosting confidentiality and security. You see, even safe websites can be infested with malvertising, which can cause a lot of problems. Not to mention, most sites use trackers, which can invade your privacy. Those issues won’t be a problem with a reliable ad blocker.
And choosing one shouldn’t be too tricky. For instance, you’ll want at least a 90% ad-blocking rate, excellent compatibility, and filtering options. Furthermore, while there are plenty of free services, picking a paid one will give you other benefits, like 24/7 customer support and better ad-blocking possibilities.
A VPN is the best tool to protect you on unsecured networks and prevent snooping. It creates an encrypted tunnel, which is basically indecipherable. Moreover, it can bypass geo-blocks and strict firewalls, giving you access to more content. Lastly, as it scrambles your traffic and IP address, tracking you online will be a lot harder.
And even if you don’t have spare money for a VPN, don’t worry. There are plenty of premium services that offer deals and money-back guarantees. For example, you can get a free iPhone VPN to protect your sensitive data and privacy.
Remembering all of your passwords can be challenging, especially if they have various symbols and numbers. Therefore, getting a password manager is a wise decision. It will organize and store all of them in one place. Furthermore, it can create hard-to-crack passwords, making hackers work much harder. Not to mention, 2FA and solid encryption will provide much-needed security.Antivirus
Viruses, trojans, and other malicious software won’t stand a chance against a top-tier antivirus. It can detect threats in real time and prevent them from doing anything disastrous. Moreover, antivirus will scan files, emails, and other data that looks suspicious. Thus, your data, personal information, and study materials will be safe and sound.
In addition, some of the best antiviruses provide loads of useful extras. For instance, you can get anti-phishing, built-in VPNs, password managers, dark web monitoring, and so on. Plus, you can usually set up such software on multiple devices to ensure overall security.