Cyber Security Tips

College FreshmanMalicious cyber activity affects individuals in a variety of ways, ranging from malware and scams to cyber bullying. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to help keep you, your kids, and your devices protected from the latest threats.

Here are some cyber security tips for enhancing safety:

  • Keep Software Up-to-Date. Be sure to keep the operating system, browser software, and apps fully updated with patches. Even new machines can have out-of-date software that leaves you at risk. Operating systems and applications are constantly being updated to fix bugs and address security issues. You should use automatic updates to ensure you’re using the most secure version of the software that is available. Also, review the privacy settings – when an app is updated, it may change your settings!
  • Configure Your Device and Apps with Security in Mind. The “out-of-the-box” configurations of many devices and apps are default settings often geared more toward ease-of-use than security or protecting your information. Enable security settings on your device, and as you install software and apps, pay particular attention to those that control information sharing.
  • Malware Protection. Make sure to have antivirus with anti-phishing support installed on all devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.). Set it to update automatically and run virus scans at periodically.
  • Consider Comprehensive Internet Security. Consider using a comprehensive Internet security software in order to better keep your device safe. Most Internet security software suites offer parental controls, which are great for managing applications that can be downloaded and the time spent on the device, while making sure students are communicating with friends on social networks in a safe way.
  • Practice Safe Computer Usage. Use trusted apps and only browse to trusted websites. Malware is often hidden in apps that trick you into downloading them or in fake websites that lure you in with interesting pictures or stories! Make sure everyone who uses the device takes the same precautions.
  • Think Before Sharing. It’s easy to over share online. Be careful about divulging personal information – like school names, team names, home addresses, and telephone numbers.
  • Be a Smart Network User. Don’t access personal or financial information over unsecured public WiFi networks such as the free WiFi in coffee shops, bookstores, hotels, and schools, as this data can be easily viewed by others. Instead, consider using your smartphone’s more secure cellular signal to surf the Web, and if you have other devices, “tether” them to your phone instead of using an open and unsecured WiFi.
  • Be on Guard for Phishing. Don’t open email attachments from suspicious sources. You may be expecting emails from group members or teachers, but use caution when opening any attachments. If you are not expecting an email or it just doesn’t look right, don’t open it. It could be a phishing attempt.
  • Use Strong Passwords. To ensure a strong password, make sure you use a complex and unique password for each account/system. Use passwords that are at least 10 characters long, and contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Guard Against Physical Access. A key problem for students continues to be the general lack of privacy and personal space they have at school. Whether it’s a shared living space, crowded work space, or the general communal environment of a college campus, they’re constantly exposing their devices to access by others. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your computing devices with you or locked in a safe place.
  • Backup Your Data. Saving important data is important given the growing risk of “ransomware” infections. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks up a person’s files until the victim pays a ransom to the hacker. It is prudent to back up often, using both a physical storage device like a flash drive or external hard drive and a cloud-based account.
  • Don’t Jailbreak/Root Your Device. Jail breaking a device is when you gain “root” access to the device, which means that you disable the manufacturer and operating system protections so that you can access areas you were not intended to have access to. This can reduce the security on the device, making it more likely that you will be infected with malware. Jail breaking your device puts you at a greater risk of getting hacked, and makes the device more susceptible to malware, malicious apps and sensitive information disclosure. It is best not to jailbreak your devices.


-article from Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center