From halls of residence to privately rented houses, students are one of the most at risk groups when it comes to theft. Many students have valuable gadgets, instruments and bikes with them at university. This makes them more likely to be targeted by criminals. New students should also be aware of identity theft threats, as many will be away from home for the first time, and unaware of the risks.
Here are some of our tips for keeping safe when away at university.
- When moving into halls, check the lock on the bedroom door. If there are any problems get this fixed straight away.
- Always lock your door and windows when you are going out, even if it is just to the corner shop. Research shows the 16 to 24 age group are three times more likely to be victims of theft.
- If you are taking a bike, always make sure you lock it up securely with a good bike lock.
- Do not share passwords and pin numbers or make them easy to guess
- Password protect your phone, tablet or laptop and log out of apps to avoid unauthorised use
- Don’t leave valuables in a visible place, especially if you are in a ground floor bedroom
- Only used licensed taxi drivers, try to share lifts home where possible
- Don’t walk home in poorly lit areas on your own
- Don’t leave valuables in your flat / house when you go home for the holidays
- Mark personal belongings with a UV pen
- Take photographs of anything particularly valuable, especially if it is a one off or has anything on it that could identify the item as yours
- Don’t let strangers into your building
- Don’t leave cooking unattended
- Clean fat out of grill trays or you risk starting a fire
- Don’t block fire exits and always know where the fire extinguishers / fire blankets are
IT Security for Students
There are many online security threats which can put you at risk from identity theft, computer viruses or unauthorised use of your computer. Students away at university may be unaware of the risks that go with information sharing or content they are downloading.
Thankfully, most threats can be avoided and Lifesure have compiled a list of advice to help you safely navigate through cyber space.
- Protect your passwords. Don’t share them with other people and make sure they can’t be easily guessed. Passwords should contain a mixture of lower and uppercase, numbers and symbols and should be at least 8 characters long. Apps and websites like SecureSafe are great for recording passwords.
- Although it can be tempting to share intimate details of your life on social networking sites, remember that criminals look for victims in all sorts of situations, so be very selective about the things you choose to post. Remember that any home insurance may be invalidated if you post too much information online.
- On social networks like Facebook or Twitter, make sure you know your “friends.” Do not accept requests from people you do not know personally, as this could make you a target for online predators.
- Check your privacy settings. Makes sure your social media profiles are set to private, so you only share updates and photos with your personal contacts.
- Always run the latest update on your devices, antivirus and apps. These will help fix bugs and known security problems.
- Shut down / restart your computer at least once a week to help software and updates to run correctly
- Be careful what you download from the internet. Only use trusted and reputable sites. It’s tempting to download the newest season of your favourite show for free. Aside from being illegal, these websites and files may contain Spyware, malware or viruses and infect your computer.
- Only store information you’re willing to lose on your phone or tablet
- Don’t do banking or other sensitive tasks on an unsecured wireless network. If you are using public wi-fi in a shop, restaurant or bar, it’s probably unsecured.
- Make sure you log out of any websites you have been on before leaving your device including any shared computers in university libraries
- Make sure you back up your computer regularly. Online services such as Dropbox or Crash Plan can provide a good amount of online storage at a reasonable cost. Your work is automatically backed up when you are online, and if the worst happens it’s easy to recover. Failing that, a good old fashioned external hard drive will also do the job. But if there’s a fire or your equipment is stolen, you may lose your back up with your computer.
- Beware of scams. Never click on a link or open an attachment from a potentially suspicious email. If an email asks you to visit the PayPal or your online banking website, type the web address manually into your browser, rather than clicking on the link provided.
- If an email asks you to call an organisation, visit the website by typing the URL in manually and locating the genuine customer services number. The one provided in the email may be a fake, designed to trick you into providing personal information.
- Remember that banks and organisations will never request information such as your bank account details, card numbers or passwords via email. If an email claiming to be from a bank or other organisation asks for information, do not click on any links, regardless of how genuine the email appears to be.
- Secure sites will be denoted by a padlock symbol, or a web address that begins with https://. This means that any information you send on will be securely transmitted. But, it is still important that you are sure the site is legitimate.