Ensuring the Safety of College Students from Cybercriminals – A Prime Concern

4 Sept 2023

Ensuring the Safety of College Students from Cybercriminals – A Prime Concern

The landscape of college life has evolved significantly since our own academic days. In the past, we traversed campuses with a solitary notebook and pencil for note-taking, largely immune to the threat of online photo and data breaches.

However, times have changed. Modern students possess not just one, but typically two or three devices at their fingertips. What's disconcerting is that many college-age individuals perceive themselves as adept "digital natives." Nevertheless, a study by Atlas VPN highlights that Generation Z and millennials, the tech-savvy age groups, are most susceptible to falling victim to phishing scams.

Startlingly, the National Cybersecurity Alliance reveals that a staggering 20% of Generation Z individuals have already experienced identity theft.

Here are several alarming tactics employed by cybercriminals to target this young demographic:

  • Unsettling Tuition Notices – Scammers dispatch counterfeit emails to students, falsely claiming owed amounts that could impact their enrollment status.
  • Bogus Financial Aid, Grant, or Scholarship Websites – These deceptive websites, when clicked, either pilfer personal information or introduce malware onto students' devices.
  • Counterfeit Public Wi-Fi Networks – Hackers establish phony Wi-Fi networks in public spaces to pilfer passwords and private data once devices connect.
  • Social Media Deception – Cybercriminals employ social media scams to gather private data, either to hijack accounts or create new ones.
  • Extortion through Stolen Photos – By hacking phones or social media accounts, criminals procure photos and blackmail students into payment to prevent public release.

The list of tactics is unfortunately extensive.

Why do tech-savvy youth fall prey to such schemes? Here are some key factors:

  • Hackers recognize that many students lack proper education regarding cyber threats due to their prior reliance on school- or parent-secured computers.
  • Growing up with social media fosters a comfort level in divulging personal information (which perpetrators exploit).
  • Limited credit history offers cyber scammers an easier path to opening accounts in students' names.
  • Multiple interconnected devices, from phones to laptops and watches, provide criminals with numerous avenues for attacks.
  • College students' primary focus on academics and social life often leaves cybersecurity overlooked, allowing cybercriminals to go undetected until it's too late.

What steps can be taken?

While we offer robust cybersecurity solutions and 24/7 monitoring for businesses, safeguarding your children away at college presents a different challenge.

Campus life isn't conducive to hovering over your child to ensure they practice cybersecurity best practices. However, you can empower them with knowledge and resources to enhance their safety.

Here are 14 actions your child can adopt to thwart cybercrime while at college:

  1. Invest in reputable virus and spyware protection and conduct weekly scans.
  2. Promptly update devices; avoid clicking "Remind Me Tomorrow."
  3. Keep browsers, extensions, and operating systems up to date.
  4. Regularly back up data to the cloud to avert data loss during attacks.
  5. Refrain from visiting or sharing credit card details on non-secure websites (HTTPS:// only).
  6. Avoid public Wi-Fi; opt for personal hotspots or VPNs on the go.
  7. Exercise caution against phishing scams; avoid clicking links or attachments, instead verify websites through Google searches.
  8. Utilize strong, unique passwords and employ a password manager.
  9. Periodically clear cookies, closing potential entry points for hackers.
  10. Install software and apps exclusively from reputable sources.
  11. Implement multifactor authentication for added security.
  12. Lock devices and safeguard passwords; avoid sharing even with close acquaintances.
  13. Shield webcams using purchased stickers or makeshift solutions like tape or paper.
  14. Register devices with the school in case of theft.

Review this list with your children. When students embark on their college journey, cybersecurity may not be their foremost concern. Yet, the repercussions of a cyberattack could mar their nascent experiences.

Cybersecurity demands just a few minutes of concerted effort but imparts a crucial lesson in an era where technology is central to nearly every aspect of our lives. The threat of cybercrime only continues to mount.

If your organization requires in-depth cybersecurity training for employees to bolster awareness of risks and best practices, we're here to assist. Begin with a completely FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment by clicking here.

College-Age Kids Are A Prime Target for Cyber Crime


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