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The #1 Technology Threat on Campus

The greatest threat to students’ technology walks on two legs and uses that technology on a daily basis. No greater threat exists — not malware, not viruses, not hackers or thieves. We’re talking, of course, about the students themselves.

I Only Left It for a Minute. . .

With most students carrying at least one electronic device and many carrying three or four, it’s hardly surprising that laptop and cell-phone theft are common problems on campuses. In spite of these, students still leave their laptops “just for a minute” to retrieve books, order another coffee or chat with friends, only to return to discover their laptop ran off with someone else.

Sadly, small electronic devices are easy to steal and easy to conceal, so keep your laptop, cell phone, and other devices in sight at all times. In the event of a theft, there are “remote wipe” applications available today that can allow victims to access their devices, wherever they are, and delete all the data as a last-ditch effort to destroy sensitive materials. Alternatively, many mobile phone makers today install “find my phone” services that can be accessed from a PC, and use GPS to determine the location of their stolen device, should it still be powered on.

Wanton Wireless Activity

Your college computer network has a team of IT experts working night and day to ensure that the network remains secure and private. The local coffee shop’s free Wi-Fi doesn’t have that luxury.

Assume that free Wi-Fi is unsecured, if not actually compromised, and don’t log in to any site or service from these free Wi-Fi locations. Hackers can eavesdrop on information packets sent across Wi-Fi networks, allowing them to gather personal information, usernames and passwords.

Password Problems

Speaking of passwords, how secure are your password habits? If, like so many people, you reuse the same password for multiple sites, you’re just asking for trouble. If you log in to Facebook on, say, that free Wi-Fi network in the coffee shop, and a hacker intercepts your information, you can bet he’s going to try that username and password on as many different sites as possible, hoping to get a positive hit. And whatever you do, stay away from the worst password of all time — “password1” — which is still the most popular password used today.

I’ll Update Tomorrow

Your college IT department insists that students must update antivirus programs and operating systems on a regular basis. They do this for a reason: out-of-date programs have security flaws that allow malware to sneak onto the device, and by extension, into the rest of the network.

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