How a College Student Stays Safe Online

The online world has developed tremendously in the past couple of years. Since the invention of the internet, the world has experienced rapid development. Nowadays, you have access to any information you want instantly. You do not have to go and search for the information you need in a book in the library, but it is only a click away. You can communicate easily and efficiently with your family but with your colleagues and teacher too. You do not have to meet in person anymore, as online meetings are the new efficient way of collaborating. And you also have tools which you can gather more information from, like social media.

How a College Student Stays Safe Online

However, as the online world is expanding continuously, there are more and more threats that come with it. Hackers are always trying to find ways to steal your personal data and information. And we have seen this in the past few years when cybercrimes just became more and more frequent. So, you are a student in college who wants to study and get excellent grades. How can you stay safe online during these times? You cannot stop using the internet at all, so there should be some ways you can do it. Should you use a VPN? Should you install an antivirus tool? Find the answers to these questions and a few tips and tricks below.

Keep Your Personal Information Private

So, one of the things you should do when you surf the internet is to try and keep your personal information private. There might be many websites that ask for your personal data when you sign up for an account. You might use the Edubirdie assignment writing service too, which offers online help to students on any subject. Professional writers can help you complete your essays and other written tasks. And, of course, these services ask you for your personal data so that they can identify you and complete your order. Whenever you are asked to share this data, be cautious. Share it only with trusted sources.

At the same time, be careful with what you share. For example, think about the data websites or services are asking you for. Your personal home address, phone number, or email address. Do not share them on public forums where everyone has access to them. Make sure you do not share them with people that have sent you sketchy emails. Try to keep it as private as you can. This way, you will stay safe online.

Use Strong Passwords

You will notice that there will be cases when you have to share your personal data, like your home address, name, phone number, and so on. For example, when you order products and you want them to be delivered to your front door.

However, while in some cases you cannot avoid sharing this information, you can make it more secure by using strong passwords. Make sure to always use strong passwords that are difficult to guess. Many websites and tools already have some rules you need to follow when you set a password. Using both upper and lower cases, but also a combination of numbers and special characters is recommended. And maybe one of the best pieces of advice you can apply so that you stay safe online is to not use the same password for multiple accounts.

Phishing Scams

If you think hackers are only trying to guess your password to get access to your accounts, you are wrong. They are developing and creating all kinds of ways to fool you into giving them your personal data. Be aware that many phishing scams are taking place in the online world nowadays. You may get unsolicited emails or messages or even suspicious links. Be wary of these.


In college life, you will have to complete lots of written assignments and papers. And for these, you need to research a lot, take notes, and make an outline. In the research phase of your task completion, you will search on Google for information. However, you may access websites that are not entirely trustworthy. So, it would be wise to install and use a VPN that will cover your IP address and will make you safe online.


College time comes with both nice and not-so-nice moments. You might be stressed sometimes, overwhelmed by everything you have to do. And this might make you neglect the fact that you need to stay safe online during these times. As a college student, you should always use VPN. Be aware of phishing scams and be wary of the suspicious and unsolicited messages you might get. Keep your personal information private and always use strong passwords.

Bio lines: Sylvester Greer is a content writer and blogger. He usually writes articles for students to help them stay safe online. Carly loves reading, hiking, and traveling.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

How a College Student Stays Safe Online