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The Importance of Cybersecurity for Students

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Major concerns when you’re a student include finishing your assignments on time, maintaining an active social life, and staying within your budget for the month. Cybersecurity may be the furthest thing from your mind; however, it’s increasingly becoming a concern for everyone. Waiting until you actually run into problems is far too late — you could lose access to your accounts, suffer identity theft, and even lose a large amount of money. It’s important to take steps now to protect yourself from an attack.

Why Are Students at Risk?

A misconception is cybercriminals mostly target big corporations that have huge funds and a wealth of customer data they can steal. In fact, cybercriminals search for the easiest targets — which can mean universities. Educational institutions give cybercriminals access to a large number of students, many of whom may be too busy to notice suspicious activity immediately. For instance, students may not be used to paying close attention to their bank accounts, meaning a fraudulent transaction could be lost in a sea of payments for living expenses, tuition, and books.

Improve Your Security Practices

Taking basic security measures can protect you online. Many tactics are free and only require minimal effort. For instance, you should update your passwords to ensure they’re unique and impossible to guess. For your most important accounts, you should enable two-factor authentication. This means you’ll need to provide additional information to log in, such as biometric data in the form of a fingerprint or eye scan or a code you receive to a trusted device or as a text message.

You should also back up all your data by saving it to the cloud. This is especially important for assignments and any other documents it would be disastrous to lose. Some advantages of using the cloud is you’ll be able to access documents from anywhere and you can collaborate with other students. Plus, systems tend to have strong security protections in place.

Lastly, if you have the means, it’s worth paying for a virtual private network (VPN). As well as hiding your IP address to make it impossible to trace your online activity back to you, it will encrypt your data.

Know the Characteristics of Common Scams

The easiest way to become a victim of a cybercrime is to fall for a scam and inadvertently share your data with a hacker. Being aware of common scams is key.

You are most likely to be the target of a phishing email. These messages contain a link or attachment that will infect your device. If the scammer is pretending to be someone from your school, your university may warn students of the phishing scam. However, scammers may also claim to be from a delivery company, financial institution, or large ecommerce company. Indications of a scam include email addresses with generic domains, spelling mistakes, salutations like “Dear student” instead of your name, and emails containing an attachment without any other content.

Living somewhere with a secure internet connection is key to protecting yourself from cybercriminals. You can find Waterloo off-campus housing at King Street Towers — rent includes secure WiFi and all other utilities. We also keep residents safe in other ways, including with card-controlled access to the building. Apply now for the floor plan you want.

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