Lock that computer - and your phone.Have you secured your devices, both physically and digitally? Most devices come with an auto-lock feature, requiring that you re-enter your password or pin code (avoid birthdays or other personal information). Also physically lock down your computer by investing in a cable lock, which allows you to secure it to a desk, reducing the chances of theft.
Avoid sharing too much.Keeping your friends updated and sharing memories via social media may seem like second nature these days. But what you share could tell someone too much - such as indicating when you’re not at home, making you a target for burglary. Be sure you’ve set the appropriate privacy settings on your accounts, and be mindful of the data points you share.
Secure your email.Your email account will be the hub of your college experience. Think of all the sites and services you use that email address for, and the network you’ll build with it. Never share your email password with anyone - and we mean anyone, including close friends. Use a unique password, and if it’s available, enable multifactor authentication for your email account.
Generate & protect your passwords.Speaking of passwords, ensure that all of your passwords are strong, unique, and known only to you, by using a password manager like LastPass. LastPass helps centralize the management of your passwords to one easy-to-use vault. It will also help you generate a mean-looking password when signing up for a new account. It’s free - and you’ll be surprised how many accounts you’ll accumulate over the years, so start now.
Keep software up to date.Shutting down your browsers, and your computer itself, will initiate most automatic updates for your computer. But those annoying pop ups and messages from your task bar? We recommend responding to them when they appear. The updates include important fixes and improvements - sometimes addressing serious security issues, so don’t put off responding to them.
Limit your activities on open WiFi.Free WiFi is your lifeblood in college. Even if your campus’ network itself may be password-protected, you never know who’s on the network with you. Limit your access to sensitive accounts (such as banking) when you’re on these networks. Consider using a VPN when you’re using open WiFi as well, which will allow you to surf anonymously and lock down your connection.
Prepare for loss.Although we’re all about being proactive and managing risk, sometimes bad things happen. The best thing you can do is prepare for that loss - of your computer, your smartphone, any of your gadgets. Backup your documents and photos on a regular basis. Look into installing software that lets you remotely access your computer or phone, so you can wipe it if needed. Also look into software that lets you track your lost device, so you have a greater chance of recovering it.
To recap what we’ve covered, here’s your full checklist:
- Set your computer to auto-lock.
- Set your smartphone’s pin code.
- Invest in a cable lock.
- Err on the side of caution when sharing online.
- Set appropriate privacy options, so you’re only sharing with friends.
- Use a strong password for your email account.
- Don’t share your email login with anyone.
- Look into security features available for your email account.
- Use a password manager like LastPass to manage your accounts.
- Generate unique passwords to avoid password reuse.
- Respond to all prompts to update your software.
- Restart your computer occasionally to ensure updates are completed.
- Use a VPN if you need to access personal accounts on open WiFi.
- Be mindful of the connection you’re using and what you’re doing on that connection.
- Install tracking software on your computer and smartphone.
- Enable remote wiping of your device, if possible.
- Back up everything to an external hard drive, regularly.