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Is Campus WiFi Secure? – 6 Tips to Keep Your Digital Info Safe at College

Date Published:  January 11th, 2022Date Updated:  October 18, 2023

Summary: School is almost back in session — and for many people that means spending more time online. Now that the holiday shopping season is behind us, we can focus on the top ways to stay safer while browsing and completing projects. Let’s hit the books.

As a modern college student, you’re likely spending more time online than ever before. Between online classes, submitting assignments, and even some well-deserved social media scrolling, the internet is your constant companion. Schools are getting on board too, offering things like digital courses, online exams, and lecture archives at the click of a button.

So here’s the deal: With all that online action, you’ve got to take steps to keep your digital life in check. Good cybersecurity isn’t just about getting your assignments in on time; it’s about safeguarding your personal info from the digital bad guys out there. We’ve rounded up six must-know tips to keep your private life exactly that—private.

Why cybersecurity matters on a college campus

Taking cybersecurity seriously during your time in college is crucial, not just as a best practice but as a safeguard for your personal and academic life. Here’s a breakdown of why it should be on your radar:

  • Data Galore: Think about it — colleges have a ton of your data, from grades to bank details for tuition payments. You definitely don’t want that info falling into the wrong hands.
  • Busy Networks: Campus WiFi is like a digital coffee shop, packed with people. You wouldn’t leave your wallet on a table in a crowded place, so why leave your data unprotected?
  • You’re a Target: Yep, cybercriminals love targeting college students. Between academic records and financial info, you’re walking around with a virtual treasure chest of data.

In short, keeping your cyber stuff secure is as important as locking your dorm when you leave. It’s not just smart; it’s essential for keeping your college experience worry-free.

How can you safeguard your data during your university years?

1. Set a strong password for everything

Creating strong passwords is the easiest way to make sure your information is private. Passwords are the first line of defense against people seeking out your digital information.

Don’t create easy-to-guess passwords, like “password” or “123456.” Use a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to create a solid password.

It’s also best practice to use different passwords for different websites and devices so that if one account is breached, the others will remain safe. Digital password managers make it easier to create new passwords using an auto-generator and save them all in one place behind a passcode.

And remember, never share your password with others.

 2. Inspect emails closely

University email addresses are often the target of phishing emails. Be sure that when you open a link or respond to an email, you know exactly who you’re emailing.

In more recent attempts, hackers have tried luring college students with high-paying, remote jobs. e, it probably is.

When in doubt, report suspicious activity to your university’s IT department, so these phishing emails are blocked.

3. Keep a cover on your webcam

Webcam covers keep you safe in a few ways. First, and most importantly, they stop hackers from being able to access your camera in a useful way.

Even when you’re not at your computer, chances are it’s facing your living room, kitchen, or office area — meaning it could expose your privacy or sensitive conversations.

There’s even some indication that hackers can use webcams to unlock your devices with facial recognition.

Second, webcam covers can also save you from accidentally enabling your camera before you’re ready. Hit the wrong button? Not a problem, because your camera is covered.

We recommend opting for a cover that sticks onto your device and slides rather than taping a piece of paper over your camera. That way, you can easily use your camera when needed without needing to find new tape every time.

This simple step ensures your privacy and protects you from potential cyber threats.

 4. Back up your documents

Nobody wants to start their semester off with a hard drive that crashes and projects that are gone forever. Avoid this fate by regularly backing up your devices.

Sure, you could do it by hand (think plugging in an external hard drive and dragging all your files). Or you could do it the easy way and opt for an automated, online data backup.

Your files will always be more secure and up-to-date, no frantic late-night cram sessions required. Trust us, you don’t want to accidentally close out of an unsaved tab while finishing up a 10-page term paper.

5. Avoid public WiFi

If you prefer to work away from your apartment, dorm, or classroom — like a coffee shop or park — you should avoid connecting to the public WiFi. Public networks aren’t secure and there tends to be a higher volume of people on them, making your information more likely to be compromised.

But we get the allure of switching up your working views. Get out of the house but play it safe by downloading a VPN, or virtual private network. It makes any connection on any network secure, so you can work wherever you want to without worrying. If available, use secure and password-protected networks, such as your university’s official WiFi.

6. Be smart about downloads

While what we’re downloading these days has changed (less LimeWire, more Spotify playlists), viruses still happen. When you’re conducting online research for your papers, only download articles from a reputable site.

And, as always, don’t click on suspicious links in emails (or any links in an email from someone you don’t know).

Pro tip: have cyber safety software installed on your devices so that if you ever do accidentally click on spam, you’ll stay safer.

By following these cyber safety steps, you can rest assured knowing your personal information is safe. Taking proactive steps is the best thing you can do to make sure your college experience isn’t hacked by unwanted technology issues or unsuspected third parties!

More About Cybersecurity

Can school WiFi see what you search?

While most schools can monitor online activity to a certain extent, it’s always best practice to access websites where your information is encrypted (secure website addresses will start with “https://” in the URL). It’s still always important to follow basic security best practices to ensure your safety online.

School WiFi safety

University networks tend to be safe if they’re secured and monitored by your school’s IT department. Regardless, it’s still extremely important to take precautions to protect your online identity, including strong passwords and caution when opening downloads.

How can I connect to Eduroam?

Eduroam is a secure WiFi network offered at most universities. You can connect by using your university email login but check with your college’s IT department to see if there are any additional steps on how to use school WiFi, like two-factor authentication.

Importance of cybersecurity education

Cyber safety for students is crucial if they want to protect their digital info online. There are several easy preventative measures that can be taken to increase the security of your online data, including creating strong passwords, using caution when opening an email from an unknown sender, and avoiding public WiFi networks.

If a reliable, high-speed internet connection would make your life easier, use EarthLink to find the right plan at the right price for you. Whether it’s super-fast fiber internet, a rural solution, or security we’ve got you covered.

Maddy Hogan

Maddy Hogan

Maddy Hogan, a copywriter for EarthLink, is a New Englander by birth, raised in the South, and a Hoosier at heart. A graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington's Media School, she brings her unique voice and insights to publications like The Island Packet, The Cherokee Tribune, The Atlanta Business Chronicle, and The Marietta Daily Journal. When she's not writing, Maddy is passionate about traveling, art, reading, movies, well-timed memes, and her two kitties.

See all posts from Maddy Hogan.