If you are a college-bound student or the parent of one, you know computers and mobile devices are must-have tools for academic and social activities. But do you know the best ways to stay safe surfing, shopping, banking and socializing online?
Study these tips to keep your personal information personal and protect your stuff while you’re away from home.
1. Get Antivirus Software
Any computing device you use to go online can be exposed to viruses and malicious software. While some bugs are just a nuisance, many have more dire consequences. According to a Javelin Strategy and Research survey, 13.1 million people were victims of identity theft in 2015.
Having the latest security software on your personal computer or laptop and keeping it updated is the first line of defense. Most programs can be set to automatically connect online for software updates in order to fend off potential threats.
2. Lock Up Your Laptops
Like locking up your car or home, the same goes for personal devices. After all, theft doesn’t just happen online and things can “go missing” in dorm rooms or the library. Invest in a security cable that will lock your computer or laptop to a table or your desk to keep thieves at bay.
3. Mind Your Passwords
Set up a strong password for your computer by using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and characters. Experts recommend changing passwords about every 90 days. If you need some help, try using a familiar phrase to remember a complex password. Make sure your mobile phone is passcode protected as well, and if available, activate the “Find my phone” feature in case it is lost or stolen.
4. Surf, Bank and Shop Securely
When you’re online:
- Don’t download free media because your device can be affected by viruses and malware
- Never shop or bank on an unsecure WiFi network (such as those offered by your local coffee shop)
- Don’t store your passwords on banking or shopping sites
- Change passwords frequently
- Use different passwords for each of your online accounts
- Key in your payment information on shopping sites every time, rather than storing information that can be hacked by thieves.
5. Take Care Using Social Media
It’s wise to set up security settings on your online profile so you can choose who you want to interact with. Be wary of friend requests from strangers—sometimes these can be laden with malware and viruses.
Bonus Tip: Consider Renters Insurance
Homeowners insurance will cover a student’s possessions if they are living in a dorm or on campus, but check with your insurer to see if you need to increase your coverage. If a student chooses to live in an off-campus apartment, renters insurance is a very affordable way to insure expensive items like computers and electronics.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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