We picked this theme for the month of October very intentionally. During September, many students were introduced to a new set of technology resources that they may have at their disposal. As this turns from introduction to regular use, it is important for students to develop an awareness of ways to stay safe online.
Here's a few key pieces of useful advice:
- Change your password routinely - according to industry experts, it is really a matter of time before your password becomes "known" by others. If you change it routinely, a recently compromised password will only be "vulnerable" until it is changed again.
- When a system asks for any personal information (address, phone number, Social Security Number, ID, email address, etc), simply ask yourself things like:
- "Why are they asking me for this?" and
- "Do they really need it?" and
- "What would happen if I did not provide it?" and
- "Am I sure that they are who they say they are?".
- When in doubt, consult with an adult.
- When a request for personal information is couched in any "urgency", that is a time to be particularly reluctant to provide the information. It is rare that something is as "time-sensitive" as the request may seem. When in doubt, wait and ask others.
- Even a request "from a friend or co-worker" should be scrutinized using those key questions. One of the most common methods to obtain personal information is to disguise a request as being from someone "close" to you.
- If you get something suspicious or land on a website that seems dicey, there's a good chance that it is something to be "on alert" about.
- Always take the extra time and effort to exit systems you've logged into. If you are using a system that will be used by others, this is particularly important. Be aware that with many things, even closing the program does NOT log you out and that this behavior is system-specific.
- While having your web browser save your passwords is handy, it is also exceedingly dangerous. You will note that most of the most sensitive data systems (like banking systems) don't even have the option to Save the Password.
- Consider what your phone has access to and what a person who happens to find your phone may have easy access to.
- When you are using a computer, can others see what you are doing close enough to do it for themselves? Consider attempting to re-orient your posture or position so as to protect your use.
- If someone uses one of your accounts to do "bad things", you are and could be held at least partially responsible for what happens. You have not only a "right" but also an "obligation" to protect your access.