Protecting Students From Cyber Crimes, Heather Engel on WVEC

Sera-Brynn Executive Vice President Heather Engel recently sat down with Janet Roach of WVEC 13 News Now to help educate the community on how students – especially college students heading back to campus this month – can protect themselves from cyber crimes.

Watch the complete interview here or read on for the full transcript.

Janet Roach: Millions of students are heading to college and they’re packing all of their electronic devices. Parents won’t be around to look over their technological shoulders and today we’re offering some advice to help keep them from falling victim to cyber crimes. So joining us from the leading cyber security firm, Sera-Brynn, is Heather Engel.

Thank you for coming on.

This is a scary time for some parents. First of all, you know, they have to say goodbye to their kids and I mean, that’s one thing. But you want your kids to be safe and they have all of these devices. What’s the number one mistake that they make?

Heather Engel: The number one mistake they make is that thinking that everything is safe. So they forget to put pass codes on their devices. They leave things lying around and they get stolen.

But I would (also) say a really big mistake is forgetting about your privacy. This is a time in your life when you’re starting to build up a credit…your credit report and a credit history. And so privacy is really important. Understanding what your digital footprint is. Social media, you should assume that it’s permanent and that it’s public.

Janet Roach: I know one thing you think about kids, so many kids are involved in this and they think “well, everybody’s is doing it” so I should be okay and that’s not necessarily the case.

Heather Engel: Yea, that’s not necessarily the case. And one of the things that we tell parents is, teach your kids to be good digital citizens. Most colleges and universities are going to monitor your connection to their networks. So if you’re downloading things that you shouldn’t be downloading, that is a hundred percent on you. Most universities and colleges will assume zero liability for that.

Janet Roach: And like you said, when you start going to those parties, not that your kids will to be partying because they really don’t do that in college. When you start doing that and people are taking pictures and posting.

Heather Engel: Yes. Be cautious about what you share on social media. Your future employers are going to look for it. And like I said, it’s public and it’s permanent. You should make that assumption.

Janet Roach: We have some tips there on the screen. Wi-Fi, that’s something that college kids need to think about.

Heather Engel: This is a big one and I think a lot of adults do this, too. We walk into Starbucks and Starbucks has free Wi-Fi and we instantly connect to it. We advise that you use public and open Wi-Fi sparingly because it’s just that, it’s open Wi-Fi. You should assume that someone is looking over your shoulder monitoring everything that you do. So if you’re going to connect to a public hot spot make sure that you’re using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which will encrypt your traffic. And just be cautious about sharing sensitive data over any kind of open Wi-Fi.

Janet Roach: What do you mean when you say go low-tech?

Heather Engel: Go low-tech. This is a really important one and you don’t have to be a technology superstar. One of the things that can happen is an attacker can actually attack your computer and activate your webcam without your knowledge. So we tell you, just put a sticker over the webcam. Disable the microphone. When you’re not in your dorm room, put your devices in a locked drawer.

Janet Roach: Good advice, as always.

Heather Engel: Thank you.