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College bound kids: protect your identity

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The good old days were when today’s college kids’ parents lugged their typewriters into their dorm room, and they communicated to people via the phone on their room’s wall. Their biggest worry was someone stealing their popcorn maker. Nowadays, college kids need to beware of remote invasions by thieves.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-identity-theft-red-words-binary-code-computer-monitor-image39907813Major educational institutions have reported numerous data breaches; they come from criminals but also result from professors being careless with laptops and students on open WiFi.

Why are colleges hotspots for hackers? There’s all sorts of users on insecure networks, not to mention a wealth of data. So it’s no longer just warning your kids not to walk the campus alone at night or to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Students can have a tendency to reuse the same password—anything to make college life less hectic. All accounts should have a different password. And don’t use a password like GoSpartans. Make it nonsensical and full of different characters.

Social engineering. College kids can be easily tricked into making the wrong clicks. A malicious e-mail can pose, for instance, as something from the university. The student gets suckered into clicking on a link that then downloads the computer with malware. A student may be tricked into clicking on a “video link” to view something hot, only to instead download a virus.

Students should look for signs of a scam like bad grammar and spelling in the “official notice” and other suspicious things. Though it’s of utmost importance to have antivirus and antimalware, these won’t stop a thief from using the student’s credit card number after the student is tricked into giving it on a phony website.

College kids also have a tendency to go nuts on social media, posting continuous updates of their day-to-day actions. If the student’s Facebook page is chockfull of personal information, a crook who has the student’s e-mail address could use this information to figure out the student’s answer to security questions and then gain entry to their accounts. This is why two-factor authentication is so important. The thief can’t possibly bust into an account if they need a special one time PIN code with the password usually delivered via a text on their mobile.

Unprotected Wi-Fi. Not all campuses provide secure Wi-Fi, and the presence of antivirus, antiphishing, antispyware and firewalls don’t guarantee all levels of protection. To play it safe, students should never visit bank account sites, insurance carrier sites and other such sites while using public Wi-Fi. Better yet install Hotspot Shield to lock down and encrypt any unsecured WiFi.

Connection salad. Campuses are full of all sorts of connected devices, from phones and tablets to nutrition trackers and other gadgets. Everyone has a device, creating a hodgepodge of connections that puts students and everyone else on campus at risk for a data breach. These Internet of Things devices need their latest software updates and firmware updates. Keep them safe from physical theft too. Shut them off when not in use.

Password protect devices: We lose stuff and stuff gets stolen. While it is certainly more convenient to not password protect a mobile, laptop or tablet, it is also an identity waiting to be stolen. Everything needs a password and don’t share that password with anyone but parents. Because when you are sleeping some night, a drunk college dormate will come log in and start posing as you on social posting disparaging stuff that will last forever.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

About the Author
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.

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