With cars overloaded with personal belongings and brains tangled up in a mix of excitement, anticipation and a little fear of the unknown, young adults across the country are heading off to college for the first time. Parents take comfort that they’ve spent 18 years preparing their child to survive on their own. But have they prepared their student to defend against that modern-day threat on college campuses – cyber attacks? Whether a widespread issue infecting computers and networks around the globe or an isolated phishing attempt on one student, prevention against cyber infections, just like the student’s physical wellbeing, comes down to practicing good cyber hygiene.
“Just like germs spread the common cold and flu undetected from one person to many, criminals infect smartphones, tablets and computers, with malware that can steal precious personal information from unsuspecting victims,” said Deborah Guild, chief security officer for The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. “Or, they take over the device, holding term papers, family photos and bank accounts access for ransom.”
There is no such thing as a sick day for technology. Computers, tablets and even smartphones are vital tools for college students today. The information available through those devices – bank account access, password keystrokes, access to the university network – is of great value to criminals, according to PNC’s cyber defense experts.
“Human error is the common point of entry. While it’s not as simple as washing your hands, you can make yourself less of a target by using common sense and practicing good technology hygiene to keep your cellphone, computer and tablet free from harmful malware,” Guild said.
When using smartphones, computers and tablets both on and off campus, students should keep in mind these suggestions:
“These helpful hints may be fun reminders for students who have much to think about as they arrive on college campuses, but they are, in fact, just a handful of the information security best practices that help to safeguard your student against cyber attacks,” said Guild. “Behaviors that we adopt in our youth often turn into good habits we possess for life. Start those first few days you step on campus with good cyber security hygiene.”
For more information, visit PNC’s Security and Privacy website »
Four out of five victims of a breach don’t realize they’ve been attacked for a week or longer. In 7% of cases, the breach goes undiscovered for more than a year.
The estimated cost for cybercriminals to infect 1,000 vulnerable computers with malvertisements.
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