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Dr. Abdullah’s Top 10 Information Security Tips for Students

Writer: Leo Draws (leojdraws@lewisu.edu)
Contributor: Devin Decuna

The issue of what to do about keeping information safe while online is still a major problem, especially for college students.

“Lady Gaga will never send a picture to you. She loves you, but she will never send a picture to you. ” This is according to Dr. Faisal Abdullah, the chair of the Department of Management Information Systems within the Lewis University of the College of Business. “Every semester I have students who tell me, ‘I have a virus on my computer. What do I do?’” Abdullah said.

The average mean cost of identity theft is $631, the average time to resolve it is 33 hours, and nearly 4 percent of Americans experience it (according to westflorida.bbb.org). Luckily for Lewis students, Abdullah left this top 10 list on how to keep information safe while on the Internet:

Have a strong password. Think about your favorite song. Select a random phrase as your password. Use upper and lower cases and special characters to make a strong password. “Use a hip-hop song,” Abdullah adds. “Hip-hop songs contain words not found in the dictionary. ”

Do not save passwords on your computer. This includes passwords of your email account, blackboard, Facebook, banks etc. “Once passwords are saved on a computer, they can be accessed in about 30 seconds,” said Abdullah.

Use a good anti-virus/spyware/malware program on your computer. Microsoft Security Essentials is a good free program.

Always scan all USB sticks/memory drives you attach to your computer with the anti-virus/spyware/malware program.

Keep your computer updated with the latest software updates and patches
Protect your privacy when browsing the Internet. Use InPrivate mode and tracking protection for browsing the Internet by following Internet Explorer - Tools - InPrivate Browsing. Firefox has a private browsing mode.

Do not open any attachments or click on links in emails you receive from people you do not know.

If you are not expecting an email or attachments from people you know, do not open attachments or click on the links. “Your friends will never ask you to buy drugs from a Canadian agency,” said Abdullah. It is always best to just leave these links alone.

Do not upload any personal identifying data such as home address, phone numbers and birth dates on social networking websites. “Cyber stalking is a reality. Stalkers can come up to you at your home or school,” Abdullah added.

When shopping or banking online look in the address bar—‘http://’ is not secure; ‘https://’ or ‘shttp://’ is an indication that the website has implemented steps to protect your data.

Of course, there are other important security measures as well. “Students must also change their passwords periodically, every six months to one year,” Rami Khasawneh, Dean of the College of Business, said. “Use more than one password and different ones for financial accounts and email accounts,” Khasawneh added.

Websites like staysafeonline.org, a Department of Homeland Security run site, provide additional help for those who may need it.