RI State Police OfferCyber Safety Tips for College Students
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Colonel Ann Assumpico is urging parents and students to protect computers, cell phone, and other mobile devices, as well as protecting personal information from cyber criminals.
“Students must remember the importance of cyber security as they return to school. Digital media has become an integral part of the college experience and whether they are returning to a dorm or to off-campus living, they should take the time to protect themselves from cyber incidents via industry recognized and recommended security practices,” said Assumpico.
The safety tips are as follows:
- Protect your computer and mobile devices with security software. Many colleges offer free security software to students. If that’s not an option, purchase reputable anti-virus software online or at a store that sells computer and office supplies. Updating security software, operating systems and apps is one of the best things you can do to protect your web devices against viruses, malware and other online threats.
- Scan USBs and other external devices that can become infected when used with other computers. When you plug them into your laptop or desktop, use your computer security software to scan for viruses and malware before using them.
- Back up your important documents, music, photos and other digital information regularly on media not connected to your personal network. (i.e. disks, thumb drives or reputable cloud storage sites). Create electronic copies that can be retrieved if your computer or mobile phone is hacked or attacked with ransomware.
- Protect your computer, personal information and online accounts with strong passwords. Have separate passwords for each account and change them at least every three months.
- Don’t use debit cards for online shopping. If someone steals your debit card information, all purchases will be automatically deducted from your bank account and the hacker will have a direct link to your bank account. Use a credit card, where you can monitor purchases and report suspicious activity before paying the bill.
- Only open links from trusted sources and verify the link by hovering your cursor over it before clicking. Links in emails, tweets, social media posts and online advertising can infect your computer with viruses and malware, or give cyber criminals access to your personal information.
- Be suspicious of any networks billed as free public wi-fi or hotspots. Don’t share personal information or conduct shopping or banking online from public networks where your personal information and financial accounts could be compromised.
- Never leave your laptop, cell phone or other mobile device unattended. They could be stolen, or cyber thieves could seize the opportunity to access your personal and financial information.
- If living off-campus, be sure to secure your router/network with WPA2/AES encryption and do not share your password for the network. Do not leave your network open for everyone.
Related Slideshow: 10 Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen and Their Parents
Heading off to college can be a stressful time. To ease the anxiety, Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv's College Admissions Expert, has some sage words for children and parents alike.
Organize your dorm room items now, and assess what you need to ship vs. transport in the car. This will alleviate stress before you leave for school. Use a printable checklist for your dorm room, like this one.
When you arrive at college, don't expect everything to be perfect. Your roommate, classes or sports team may not be everything that you dreamed of, and that's okay. Make the best of it, and remember that college gets easier after you adjust in the first semester. Stay in touch with friends and family from home, but transition to your new life. Don't live virtually (texting) hanging on to the past too much--live in the moment in your new community.
Make sure you know where health services is on campus and the hours. Also, know where the closest hospital is, in case health services is closed. Visit the academic support center and learn about tutoring and study skills resources in the first week of school---BEFORE you need them.
Join at least 3 organizations or clubs on campus. This will give you a chance to meet a variety of people outside of your dorm and classes. Chances are that these students will be more aligned with your interests and values. Intramural sports teams, the campus newspaper, community service groups, political groups, outing clubs are all good.
Don't hover at orientation and drop-offs. This is a difficult time, but resist the urge to linger.
Get a healthcare proxy signed before your son/daughter goes off to campus. This is critical for students over 18, otherwise you will not have access to medical info in the case of and emergency (due to healthcare privacy laws). You need to be able to speak with doctors and make decisions remotely and quickly if anything happens.
Expect some bumps in the road. Homesickness is normal, as are issues with roommates and professors. Be supportive at a distance. Never call a professor, and try not to text your child multiple times a day. This is the time to let them learn independence and more responsibility. They can deal with issues if you give them the chance.
Book now for parent weekends and special events on campus for the rest of 2015-16 year. Hotels get overloaded during big weekends.
Avoid pushing a major--this usually leads to unhappiness and causes stress in the family. It's good to provide students with resources, but encourage them to seek career testing and counseling on-campus with professors and the Career Center. Discuss options, but don't dictate or pressure students to select something too early.
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