Student Security Tips
Keep your hardware and data safe with some sensible advice.
Students have a lot to deal with and are extra vulnerable to crime. College Campuses, university halls and shared housing are full of students with laptops, mobile phones and other electronics ready to be stolen, and when you’re on a low income, even a minor theft can cause trouble. If it is a laptop that is taken it can be devastating.
Use a VPN. For the best security, you should avoid doing online banking when connected to a network you don't control. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your traffic so no one can read it.
Protecting your hardware should be your number one priority, especially as it will be expensive to replace, but there is also the need to protect your valuable data too. Your device might contain work that’s crucial to your course, or personal information that could be used towards greater fraud, but in many cases lost data is irreplaceable in ways that lost hardware never is.
"Never use the same password for your bank that you use on other websites. Make it unique"
Making an inventory of items as you’re packing up for the big move is not just a great way of ensuring you have everything you need. It’s also a helpful list to keep on hand in case something does get stolen. Keeping a note of the make, model, and serial numbers of your electronic items can also help police track items down.
Mark it for security and peace of mind.
Invest in an ultraviolet pen. Marking valuables with your postcode, name and student registration number will help the police to trace items should a theft occur, it will also help in proving the item is yours.
Keep Your Devices Hidden.
This may seem like an obvious thing, but you would be surprised on how many users still leave their devices laying around and in full view of anyone interested in taking it for themselves. If you do have to leave it alone for any length of time, hide it from view, throw a jacket or even books over it to make it less visible, and do remember to make sure it is powered off first.
A home safe may also be a worthwhile investment, ideal for storing smaller valuables and important documents such as passports and coursework. It is best if this can be secured to the floor to prevent it being removed, but be sure to check with landlords or campus before making any alterations.
Install an Antivirus.
If you are using the same network, or even sharing hardware it is very important to use an antivirus program. All manner of malware can cause permanent damage to your data and sometimes even hardware. There is also the possibility of being left open to identity theft and financial fraud.
Use Strong Passwords
One of the easiest ways to protect your data is to make sure you have a password of passcode before you can enter and use your device. This is not fool proof but it can help. For really important data and files you could encrypt them, so it makes them near impossible to access if your device is stolen.
The one piece of advice no-one ever takes – and which everyone regrets not taking when things go wrong – is to make backups. Many users are totally lost because they have lost everything from coursework to dissertations when their device is stolen or destroyed. There is no better feeling than knowing you have backups of your important work so you are ready to continue.
Use Remote Tracking
Theft isn’t the only way you might lose the use of your device. You might accidentally leave it on the train or bus, or drop it without knowing. There are number of programs available to track your device. For instance, if you own an iPhone or iPad you can use the Apple App “Find My iPhone/iPad, there are similar Apps for Android. If you’re going to pay for an antivirus package it may be worth checking the various ones as some do offer tracking features for laptops and phones.
If the worst does happen, and your hardware is lost, stolen or destroyed you’ll need some way of replacing the hardware. Insurance is important, especially if you are a student. Replacing your lost or damaged hardware quickly is important so you can get on with your coursework. There are many companies who will cover you, but you need to make sure it suits your needs. Check exactly what your insurance covers and, more importantly, what it doesn’t.
Conclusion: This is just advice, but it is important when you’re a student to cover all eventualities. Many students are never the victim of crime, but there is still the possibility or hardware damage or failure.