Don’t be like Drake – manage your online security
What do Drake, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Black and Kylie Jenner have in common? Besides being rich and famous, they’ve also all had their social media accounts hacked into. While you may think you’re immune – after all, you’re not a celebrity, so no one would want to hack into your online presence – young people are a demographic most vulnerable to hacks. Pretty much everything you do is online. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, your personal email, your university email, Netflix binges, late-night ubers (hurray for the night tube), deliveroo when you can’t be bothered to cook, iCloud, the apple store… the list could go on and on.
So while you might think that as a fresher, online security isn’t your top priority, it definitely should be up there. To help you out, Joe Seigrist, VP and GM of LastPass has shared his tips on how you can improve your online security as you begin life as a student.
Use a password manager!
We hear of new hacks every day. In spite of this, we continue to reuse passwords across our accounts. The majority of celebrities have been hacked because they’ve had the same password across different accounts. If a hacker gets access to one password, they can potentially get into other accounts. The only way to prevent this from happening, is by having different passwords for all your accounts. Yes, this is annoying, and yes, that’s a lot of different birthdays, favourite places, and pet names to remember. But, with a Password Manager, like LastPass, it’s all done for you. They generate long, complex and unique passwords, so you don’t have to rely on your brain or a piece of paper to remember them.
So, not only will a Password Manager increase your security, but it will also save you time, increase your productivity and reduce stress. If you tell that to your parents they’ll probably buy one for you, saving money as well.
Security questions are your friend. Don’t forget about your friends.
Many online accounts will ask you to set up security questions to add an extra layer of safety to your account. However, they are typically terrible for security and for many people, are the weak link in their overall online security system. If you’re already using a password manager to store all your passwords, try using the generated passwords feature for the security questions and save the answers in the “Notes” section in your account. Your note field ends up looking like this: first pet: ackpioughtso. Make sure you also use the pronounceable feature, something we have at LastPass, when generating these. Otherwise, you might end up on the phone with customer service and explaining why your first pet has $$%%@@ in its name – which is more trouble than it’s worth!
Protect your new laptop
If you’re lucky enough to get a new laptop before you start university, make sure you install anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall software to prevent any one attacking your computer. And if you’re not getting a new laptop, it’s still important to make sure your security software and settings are up to date.
Once your laptop is secure, try and keep it that way. NEVER click on any links in emails unless you know it’s from a safe source. You don’t want to be advising the lecturer you have overdue work for about how you MADE £37,000 AT HOME BY USING THIS SIMPLE, EASY TRICK.
Online banking is a life saviour for all students, new and old. It’s an easy way to pay bills, transfer money to friends, request and receive emergency money from your parents, and generally budget your life. The downside is that it also makes you vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and instead of stealing your passwords, they’ll be stealing your money, which is pretty much every student’s worst nightmare.
Before you enter your bank account details online, make sure there is a padlock symbol in your browser, and that the web address changes from http to https. Check your bank statements regularly, and if you notice anything unusual, let your bank know ASAP.
Turn on two factor authentication to make a hackers life even harder
With two-factor authentication (2FA) activated on your important accounts, it means that even if a hacker has your password, they will not be able to access the account without having a second piece of information such as a one-time code generated from an app on your phone or a fingerprint.
So there you have it – top tips for keeping you secure online. As a student, it might be the last thing on your mind, but it’s probably one of the best things you can do. When your entire life is online, it’s worth ensuring that it stays that way.