Why You Shouldn’t Click Everything On The Internet

By Yunyi Wang

Miami Journalism Student

Businesses pay a lot of money to protect themselves from cyber attacks each year and millions of dollars are spent to recover the loss of sensitive data such as banking information, credit details, and government files. According to the 2015 Global Cybersecurity Status Report, cyber crimes cost more than $300 billion every year in the U.S.

According to the cyber crime report, cyber crimes cost U.S. $108 billions dollars in 2013 with more than 9 thousand of cyber crimes. The U.S. has the highest GDP among five developed counties which suffer the most cyber attacks.

Data collected by BizReport shows nearly two-thirds of college students use unsecured Wi-Fi networks at least once a month. College students are highly connected to the internet and mobile devices. At the same time, bad online habits can cause them a lot of trouble.

Students who live on campus don’t have to worry about their wireless internet since MU-Wireless is a supported secured wireless network on campus. However, when students move off Miami’s campus they may use networks which are open access, unsecured, and without high levels of protection.

“Sometimes if the Wi-Fi is slow at Kofenya, I’ll log onto Wi-Fi from the apartment above if it doesn’t have a password,” Miami University student Clara M. says.

Internet cookies can be a threat to online privacy as well. Facebook, Twitters, Amazon, Google and many other companies use cookies to track their customers’ browsing habits. They do this by collecting and analyzing customer web preferences so they can target advertising directly to them.

To put it simply, your mobile devices may track you everywhere you go online. They also collect your browsing habits, noting which products most capture your attention or which stores you visit most often.

However, some students at Miami University aren’t worried.

“It’s hard to say but I think the benefit of using cookies outweighs it’s shortage,” Wayne Wong, a junior majoring in Computer Science at Miami, says.

He says cookies can be safe if companies use them legally.

“Bad things only happen when third parties try to put their commercials online, and they extract your browsing history in order to turn it in advertising,” Wong says.

Students use digital media in B.E.S.T library, Miami University.

“It is necessary, [internet cookies] help to identify which information are the most relevant to you, it can remember your searching history, buying preferences, logging in information and many other things so that you don’t have to spend time in remembering those things,” says Interactive Media Studies major Boyan Chen.

“Most spam doesn’t come from cookies, that just what people say, but you have to be aware of them,” he says.

He also says people will pay more attention to online security, if the security system can make it more intelligible to the general user.

“In the future, social networks like Facebook and Twitter can do a window notification to inform consumers about the use of cookies, to make their data collecting more transparent,” said Chen.

What we called “phishing” occurs when a user is baited with a phishing email or a webpage that looks official, but after you click it sensitive information is extracted from your computer. That usually happens when people don’t know what is the correct format for a legitimate site. A hack is a little more complicated. It happens when hackers exploit security weaknesses in software and break into your devices.

However, most of the college students still rely on the display of the webpage, such as the logos, design, and layout, to determine whether a site is legitimate or not. Recently, some new phishing scams have been reported to IT services at Miami University.

Scammers will first compromise a Miami user’s Facebook account and then send a group message to the victim’s friends and ask them for their passwords to access Miami’s Wi-Fi. Then those “phishers” will use the information they get to access other information.

More cases can be find at here.

So, what can students do to protect themselves online?

Scott Campbell, professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Miami, says there are four things college students can easily do.

“I use a program called the LastPass, they are free, and all of my sites now have strong, different, unique passwords. A lot of people use the same password all places so if I get your password at one place I can log in to you all the different sites and you’re done,” Campbell says.

He also tells students to “back up, back up, back up, because there is a really nasty attack around somewhere if you got a virus on your computer, they will encrypt your whole hard drive, all your data is gone.”

College students are highly connected to the internet and Campbell says it is time for students to step up their online security.

“It’s time to secure yourself online and learn those ways to protect your data and security,” he says.

Miami University students concerned about whether a message or an email they receive is fraudulent or not, or who have any other questions about how to protect themselves online, can reach Miami’s IT security personnel at infosec@miamioh.edu.

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