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college safety tips

Safety

Cybersecurity Measures to Take as a Remote College Student

March 16, 2021

Remote learning has become the norm for many college students all over the country. It was already growing in popularity over the last several years. But, the COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in remote learning to keep everyone safe.

Moving into a post-pandemic world, remote learning is here to stay for some. It’s extremely beneficial for those who need a flexible schedule or anyone who might be looking for a more affordable way to attend college.

But, for all of the benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and risks. One of the biggest concerns for remote college students should be cybersecurity and knowing how to keep yourself safe online. While you might not have to deal with things like on-campus crime, cyber criminals can do just as much damage with your personal information.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime as a remote college student.

Understand the Risks

Any time you submit personal information online, it can be a risk. Educate yourself ahead of time on your college’s cybersecurity program(s) and privacy policies.

A school’s cybersecurity priorities should include:

  • Network monitoring
  • Data monitoring
  • Protective controls
  • Network segmentation
  • Password management
  • Vulnerability scanning

If your college is offering remote learning opportunities, they should be upfront about the security measures they have in place. Their IT department should be available to work with you as often as possible, and it should be easily accessible.

You should also put some measures in place at home to keep yourself as safe as possible, especially if you’re giving out financial or medical information. Invest in security measures that medical services use, like antivirus software, and make sure you never give personal information to any school website that isn’t secure.

Keep Yourself Safe – Wherever You Are

One of the perks of being a remote student is that you can take classes anywhere. But, when you’re off-campus, you might not have a strong cybersecurity system in place to keep you safe from threats. It’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to those threats, so you can reduce your risk of an attack.

Some of the most common cyber threats are:

  • Phishing emails
  • Denial of service
  • Malware programs

It’s also important to be aware of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. These occur when a perpetrator steps into a digital conversation, usually when you’re trying to get help. For example, if you’re having problems with a software program or website, you might see a chatbot pop up. A perpetrator can pose as someone offering to help you, but their main goal is to steal information. Be aware of red flags asking for too much information or things that aren’t relevant to the conversation.

Educating yourself on these threats (and others) can keep you from becoming a victim of viruses or having your personal information stolen.

The risk of cybersecurity threats shouldn’t keep you from taking college courses online. But, knowing that the risks are out there and how you can keep yourself safe from them is a crucial component in the success of your remote learning process.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Health Student Life

Returning to Campus Without Regrets

March 5, 2021

After a surge in early winter, COVID-19 cases have begun to decline. Seasonal factors, an increase in mask wearing and social distancing, partial immunity, and the vaccine rollout have combined to stem the tide — at least for now. With more variants popping up, however, nothing is certain. 

Despite ongoing uncertainty, more colleges and universities are reopening, or preparing to reopen. What does that mean for you as a college student? How can you return to campus with confidence? Here are some ideas on getting back to class without regrets. 

Don’t let up on healthy habits

Even with vaccines becoming available and new case numbers dropping, the Center for Disease Control says it’s essential to stay vigilant. Keep taking the standard precautions:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Use hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfect shared surfaces — like desks, countertops, appliance knobs, light switches, etc. — with antibacterial wipes.
  • Wear face masks. Double-masking is even more effective.
  • Maintain social distance of at least six feet between yourself and others. In classrooms, this may mean keeping an empty desk between yourself and your nearest classmate.

Be aware of the externals

As you return to the classroom, be aware of external risk factors that can affect your safety.

  • Time — How much time are you spending around people? The less, the better.
  • Space — The more space you can keep between yourself and others, the safer you’ll be.
  • People — Large numbers of people in small spaces increase the risk of transmission.
  • Place — Outdoors is best. But if your classes are indoors (as most are), classrooms should have adequate ventilation and room for social distancing.

Take precautions on the road

With more people returning to school and work, more vehicles will be on the road. Be aware of how this affects you as you return to school.

  • Stay vigilant. People who haven’t been driving might take a while to get their skills back up to speed.
  • Leave enough time for your commute. Don’t put yourself in a position of rushing to get to class.
  • Check the weather and drive cautiously. This winter has produced some of the craziest weather in memory, resulting in icy roads and lots of wrecks. 
  • Know what to do in case you’re in an accident.
  • Be sure you have the proper auto and injury insurance.

Take charge of your finances

  • Set a budget that allows you to remain free of financial worry as you focus on your classes.
  • Begin building your credit. Consider a card that’s secured by an account deposit so you don’t charge more than you can afford.
  • Cut back where you can. If you get a job just so you can afford a video game system, you’ll have less time to focus on your studies: You’ll either be at work or playing.

Don’t be afraid to request safety measures

  • Ask your instructor to be sure your classroom is properly ventilated.
  • If you’re uncomfortable in class, see whether lectures will be available online.
  • Request that personal protective equipment (PPE) be available in class. Bring your own anyway, just in case.
  • Most schools have long since pivoted to turning in assignments online. Make sure it’s an option for you.

Resuming classes is stressful enough without the added anxiety of dealing with health risks. Fortunately, if you take these precautions, you’ll be more likely to return to campus with confidence that you’ll be safe. Then you can focus on your studies, rather than worrying about things that can get in the way. 

BIO: My name is Jessica Larson. I’m a married Midwestern mom and a solopreneur. I create online courses for students, and I’ve started and run several other businesses through the years. My goals are to support my family while still actually spending time with them, to act as an entrepreneurial role model for my two daughters, and to share what I’ve learned through The Solopreneur Journal.