You might want to think twice about using the same password for everything.

In a world where we have moved almost all our everyday activities—from school to work—online, we often forget about cybersecurity and underestimate the information we store on the web.

But, by acknowledging internet privacy concerns, we can recognize the gaps, change our digital habits and better ensure online safety.

So, here are IGNITE’s six cybersecurity tips that every student needs to know:

1. Use strong passwords

Animated cartoon drawing putting passwords into a computer.

Creating one password and sticking with it for every new account you make can be tempting. But it can also be dangerous—if that one password is compromised, hackers have access to all of your accounts.

To keep your accounts autonomous, use a different password for each one. And, for extra security, incorporate at least:

  • one lowercase letter
  • one uppercase letter
  • one number
  • four symbols

2. Recognize phishing scams

Man throwing a computer in the garbage.

A phishing scam is when an attacker poses as someone else, or as a website, to try stealing sensitive information from you—like your address or credit card number.

As a rule of thumb, never give out personal information via the internet. Although a phishing scammer’s requests for information may look very similar to a company you trust, your bank will never ask you for personal information out of the blue. Other tips to avoid this type of scam include:

  • Analyzing your emails before clicking on links
  • Keeping an eye out for strange requests, especially those with spelling and/or grammatical errors
  • Flagging communications that use generic greetings—if you have an account with a company, they’d probably use your name in an email.

These are usually giveaways that someone isn’t who they seem.

3. Back up your data regularly

Animated computer machine printing out data.

A simple rule to follow when backing up your data is the 3-2-1 rule, which states you should have three copies of your data. For example, if you are saving a video you edited, you should save it to your computer, upload it to a cloud service and keep it on a hard drive.

4. Purchase a VPN

Security guard enhancing surveillance.

If you are an avid public Wi-Fi user (like, if you regularly study on campus or at coffee shops) you may want to purchase a virtual private network (VPN).

A VPN is a service that encrypts your data and hides your IP address while you use public Wi-Fi. This keeps your browsing data anonymous—which not only shields your identity and protects your private information, but also lets you explore the internet as if you’re in another country (hello, American Netflix). 

5. Stay up-to-date with security breaches

Security character from "The Simpsons" guarding a gate.

Although companies try their best to keep your information safe, attacks do occur and can comprise your information.

Stay on top of notifications or emails from companies about possible compromises to your account security and, if necessary, be prepared to change your password or delete your account.

6. Disable Bluetooth 

A finger tapping on a bluetooth icon on a phone.

Your device can be hacked through Bluetooth; so turn it off when you’re not connected to a Bluetooth device.

When dealing with any electronic device connected to the internet, ensure you are taking the right safety precautions to keep yourself safe. For more cybersecurity tips, reach out to your friends in Humber College’s technology programs—technology evolves every day; so it’s great to hear what people in the industry have to say.

Interested in tech and gaming? Check out Humber College Esports: a gaming community right on campus!

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