5 Online Privacy Tips for New College Students
BY SUSAN PARKER
College is an important phase for building a network of connections that can last a lifetime. Thanks to modern technology, many of these friendships start online via social networks. Even though this is an exciting time, it’s important for new college students to know where the line between openness and privacy lies.
Here are 5 online privacy tips for new college students.
Be Selectively Social
Social media is a part of our everyday lives, but despite ongoing changes to the user experience and privacy policies, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are still vulnerable to targeted data threats.
From profile duplication and cloning to fake profiles and catfishing, there are many ways in which people can lure you into supplying personal information.
Make sure that you understand exactly what you’re posting online and how visible it is. Check your privacy settings, particularly around location-based updates.
Then, make sure that you don’t accept invitations from people you’ve never met. These requests are often a cover for personal information theft.
Password Protect Everything
Apart from protecting you against Fraping – which is actually a crime in some parts of the world – passwords can help you protect your privacy and personal information.
Leaving your devices unlocked makes you an easy target for tech-savvy opportunists, and it’s surprisingly easy to swipe information like credit card numbers and home addresses.
Select a strong password, and keep it safe, to make sure you’re not an easy target.
Keep Yourself Backed Up
Although you can recover virus encrypted files, it is often simpler to protect your privacy through a schedule of regular, safe backups.
Running around campus with a hard-drive that contains all your assignments, copies of important documents, and a list of your banking passwords is risky – devices fail, and they are easy to lose.
Take the time to store your information, and back it up, in a secure, cloud-based storage system. Regular updates will mean you don’t need to worry about losing private information, and you can access it anywhere – which is far safer than trying to remember a hard drive or flash drive.
Don’t Share Devices
College is not a place to be overly-protective of your devices, but sharing a flash drive or hard drive can make it a lot easier for people to access your private information.
Not only do you run the risk of sharing software viruses, this habit also makes it easy for people to lift important information – especially if you are working in a group where you don’t know everyone.
Instead, share info via email.
Always Log Out
Using a shared computer is quick and convenient, but can have dire consequences if you forget to log out.
Get into the habit of signing out of everything – including Gmail – whenever you’re done with a device.
There’s no need to be paranoid about privacy, but you need to be aware that college isn’t the safest place for you to protect your data.
Log out, don’t trust suspicious social media posts, and be careful about the devices you connect and you should be fine.
Susan Parker is a writer and tech geek. She volunteers for local environmental conservation programs and writes stories online about things that inspire her.