Spring Break and Staying Secure Online: An Internet Safety Guide for College Students

Computers & TechnologyInternet

  • Author Skip Myers
  • Published March 8, 2024
  • Word count 742

Spring Break and Staying Secure Online: An Internet Safety Guide for College Students

Skip Myers

Spring break is an exciting time for many people, allowing them to unwind, recharge, get some sun, and create unforgettable memories.

However, it's essential to remember that our digital lives also require attention and care, even while we're busy basking in the sun, trying out new experiences, and enjoying time with friends and family. Taking precautions like using sunscreen for protection against the sun and being mindful of online safety can help ensure your spring break remains enjoyable and problem-free.

So, to help you stay safe online while you're on spring break, I'm here to provide you with a different kind of sunscreen to help protect you from a different type of danger. In this article, I will give you some essential tips to help you safely navigate the digital world during your spring break getaway.

  1. Secure your Wi-Fi connections

Public and accessible Wi-Fi networks at airports, hotels, and cafes are convenient but often lack proper security to keep you safe while online.

While on these unsecured public networks, avoid accessing sensitive information or visiting sites where your money is, such as your online bank accounts or credit cards.

Before using public Wi-Fi, consider installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device to encrypt your data and protect your privacy.

  1. Be careful of what you share online

Be cautious about your social media posts, especially regarding your "out-of-town" location, travel plans, and how long you will be gone.

Oversharing your personal information can attract unwanted attention or make you vulnerable to targeted scams or unwanted visits to your dorm or residence while you are away.

Refrain from posting sensitive information like hotel details, boarding passes, or personal ID documents.

  1. Practice smart password hygiene

Before going on Spring Break, consider changing the passwords of your most sensitive online accounts. Outsmart the bad guys and use unique and complex passwords for all your online accounts.

Avoid using easily guessable passwords relating to information like birthdays and pet names.

Consider using a password manager to help you securely create and store strong passwords.

  1. Be cautious with making online transactions

While away, you may be tempted to make online purchases from reputable websites that utilize secure payment gateways, which is crucial.

Make sure you see the padlock symbol in your browser's address bar. Double-check and ensure you see the "https" in the URL to provide a secure connection before entering your payment information.

Be wary of unsolicited emails or messages offering deals or discounts that seem too good to be true. These emails could be phishing attempts designed to steal your personal information. Do not click on links or download anything emailed to you from an unknown or suspicious source.

  1. Stay vigilant against social engineering scams

Be cautious of individuals/strangers you meet online, especially during spring break. Be especially careful with those who try to build rapport quickly, make unrealistic promises, or want to "meet up" with you alone somewhere.

Never send money, share personal information, or share photos with someone you don't know and trust thoroughly.

If you suspect a scam, report it to the appropriate authorities and block all communication with the individual.

Spring break is a time to unwind and have fun, but it's crucial to be mindful of online threats that could risk your information and security.

Bonus Tips

First and foremost, always use strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts. This advice is a no-brainer, but always use a different password for multiple accounts.

Additionally, be wary of suspicious emails and messages containing phishing links or malware. Always double-check the sender's email address and avoid clicking on links or downloading suspicious attachments.

It's also essential to keep your devices and other gadgets up-to-date with the latest software updates and security patches. These updates keep you safe and often include critical security fixes that can protect your devices against known vulnerabilities and threats.

It is highly recommended that you use a virtual private network (VPN) to access public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic while protecting your privacy and security.

Remember, a little digital sunscreen and caution can protect you and your information and ensure a safe and enjoyable spring break.

Resources for Parents and Children

• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

• The ADAM Program

• FBI CyberTipline

• Internet Safety Brigade

• FBI Safe Online Surfing

• Internet Safety 101: Rules ‘N Tools Checklist

Skip Myers is a former criminal investigator, white collar crimes detective, and crime scene technician. Currently as a fraud prevention security expert and fraud prevention podcast host, he brings over thirty years of law enforcement, loss prevention, e-commerce, electronic payment, and fraud prevention experience.


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