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How to Stay Safe on Campus: 5 Easy Tips

Keeping your PC and gear safe on campus isn't hard! Here are the steps you need to take.

You're starting school this fall. You've got your classes. You've got your books. You may even have a new laptop. But how can you keep your PC and gadgetry safe and secure while you're at school?

Luckily, it's not hard! Here's how to keep your gadgets safe. (And no, there won't be a quiz.)

Antivirus Software

You probably already know that you should install some sort of antivirus software on your computer. In fact, some schools require that any computer connected to the campus network. In some cases, schools will offer antivirus software to students either for free or for a reduced price. Be sure to check with your school's IT department and on-campus computer store to see what's available.

Also, check with your school to see what guidelines and requirements you have to meet. Be sure to see our latest security reviews to see what to use--and what to skip.

Be Careful on Campus

Wi-Fi While your campus's Wi-Fi network is probably fine to use for basic Web browsing, you should avoid using it for anything super-sensitive--someone might be listening in using a tool like the Firesheep plug-in for Firefox. So avoid using Wi-Fi to check your bank balance or to check your Webmail, for example, or perform other tasks where you're dealing with sensitive personal information. For those sorts of things, you should plug into your school's wired network, if possible. If you use Facebook or Twitter, be sure to enable the HTTPS option on both to avoid getting your information hijacked.

Lock Down Your Laptop--Even in Your Dorm

In dorms, stuff happens. Your room might get broken into. Your careless roommate leaves the door unlocked. So if you ever leave your laptop in your dormroom, you should secure it with a cable lock. A typical notebook lock from Kensington or Targus will do the trick. A notebook lock won't guarantee that your laptop won't get stolen, but it can prevent someone seeing your laptop on your desk and walking off with it.

Don't Leave Your Equipment Unattended in the Library

When I was a student, I don't know how many times I saw someone leave their laptops unattended in the study area in the library if they stepped away for a few minutes. It should go without saying, but leaving your laptop unattended--even in a seemingly safe and busy location such as the library--is a really bad idea. Take your laptop with you, even if you're stepping away for five minutes.

Protect Against Lost Phones

Lose your phone again? Hey, we're not going to judge; but there are ways to keep the data safe on it if you happen to misplace it. Various tools are available that lets you track your lost phone--or remove the data from it if necessary. If you have an iPhone, Find My iPhone (free) provides these services. If you're on Android, you have more options. One of which is Lookout Mobile Security, which provides a number of security tools to keep you and your data safe, and lets you track your phone's location. If you upgrade to the premium version ($30 per year), you'll also get the ability to erase the data on your phone should it fall into the wrong hands.

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