Cyber Security Threats: How Students Can Protect Their Data

As more information technologies are developed, students are turning to the Internet for their studies more often than ever. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online courses and e-learning have become even more commonplace. However, these factors have encouraged cybercriminals to double their efforts at extorting personal information. These days, teachers, students, and even parents are facing increased danger.

cyber security threat is an attack on important information stored on a computer or a network. In its course, an individual or a group of individuals gain unauthorized access to the personal details of their target. They do so to damage or steal sensitive data, such as intellectual property, IT assets, etc. Thus, nowadays, all users must be aware of cyber threats and software vulnerabilities. In this article, our specialists will inform you about the main types of threats that students encounter. We will also help you identify them and teach you how to protect yourself.

Why Cyber Security Is Important to Students

Cybercriminals target schools, colleges, and universities more and more often. The reason for this is simple. Typically, educational networks contain extensive personal information that isn’t well-protected. Their colossal size also makes it easier to infect other devices and steal more data. Students and institutions are notoriously famous for their lack of concern with cyber security.

The situation has become worse during the pandemic. Cybercriminals now have more reasons and more chances to target academic spaces.

With the rise of cyber-attacks on academic institutions, the number of attacks against students has also increased. Therefore, every individual user must be aware of the new dangers lurking on the Internet. Furthermore, they must know how to protect themselves. Next, we will talk about which cyber-threats are especially risky for students and how to safeguard against them.


Cybercriminals, or hackers, often develop software intended to steal or damage data and destroy computer systems. This is referred to as malware or “malicious software.” There are many ways it can spread to a device. Spam emails, fake messages on websites, and pop-up ads are notorious for carrying malware. Downloading any kind of software from the Internet also increases the risk of being secretly infected. This is true even for applications acquired through legitimate methods.

In the case of malware, the spectrum of threats is rather extensive. It spreads not only to computers and mobile devices but also reaches the rest of your data. In the list below, we have explained different types of malware threats:

  1. Computer viruses. Just like humans, devices can become infected by viruses. Students can easily acquire one alongside a downloaded PDF or Word Document. It will activate once the software it is connected to is executed or opened. Viruses’ purpose is to disrupt your computer’s system, cause operational difficulties, and damage your data.
  2. Trojan horses. Named after the famous incident described in The Iliad, this type of virus masquerades as helpful software. It tricks the users into downloading it, only to cause harm once the program is running. The damage can range from irritating pop-ups to major data loss.
  3. Spyware. There is a type of malware that runs discretely, silently stealing personal data or sensitive information. Spyware can even grant its creator the ability to change various programs and Internet settings. Typically, people download it alongside other safe-seeming software.
  4. Worms. What separates a worm from a virus is its ability to compromise a device instantly. The moment you download it, it will start affecting your computer´s system. It will also immediately spread from device to device and system to system. Students and schools are often targeted with worms because of their extensive networks and databases.
  5. Adware. We have all suffered from advertisements during our time on the Internet, and it is never a pleasant experience. However, what makes adware particularly dangerous is that it can cause significant issues to your system. Sometimes, it contains other viruses or Trojan horses, and it can slow down your device.
  6. Ransomware. It is designed to find your data and then encrypt it. In this case, you will no longer have access to your accounts or files. To get your information back, you will have to provide a monetary payment to the cybercriminal. These attacks are common among university and school websites because of the pressure to get back sensitive details.

How to Prevent Malware

Your protection against viruses and other types of malware depends on how well you take care of your device. Constantly upgrading your software, using antivirus programs, and cleaning can prevent the majority of threats. However, your Internet activity also plays a significant role.

To protect yourself from malware on your computer and mobile devices, follow our checklist:

Email Phishing

Phishing is a cyber-attack in which hackers administer a fraudulent activity employing email, telephone, text message, or phone calls. Phishers may try to steal your credit card information or trick you into doing something by shocking you. Such scams often ask you to “confirm” your identity by going to a fake website and providing your personal data. In this section, we’ve explored email phishing specifically. Scammers tend to use this method to attack students.

The ultimate goal of every phishing activity is for the receiver to open up the email and provide the requested info by clicking on the link. That’s why the requests are usually one of these:

  1. Fraud Google Doc notifications.
  2. Emails asking for your login information.
  3. “Tech Support” scams with concerns about your laptop’s issues.
  4. Emails about scholarships and tuition payment processors.
  5. “Work-from-home” scams.
  6. Impersonated IRS requests asking you to pay “federal student tax” via the link.
  7. Fraud ads regarding housing.
  8. Emails that have “important information about your school account.”

 Keep in mind:

No official organization asks a student or any other person to send their personal data via email without any warning. In particular, no banks, social media representatives, or other trustworthy sources seek your passwords.

How to Prevent Email Phishing

To avoid phishing risks, you need to pay close attention to what type of emails you receive and open. You can identify if you got spam email by the following features:

However, knowing what to look out for in the email is not always enough to protect yourself. From time to time, it will be dangerous to open spam messages. To avoid these situations, you need to do the following:

  • Don’t share your personal information via email and via messages.
  • If you need to send a confidential letter, make sure the email of the receiver is legitimate.
  • Use filters in your mailbox and all the messengers.
  • Don’t post any personal information on untrustworthy websites.
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever it is possible.
  • Check the list of cyber threats that attack the students from your campus.

You can find some more tips on how to protect yourself on the website about phishing.

 Social Media Phishing

Social media scam is a form of phishing in which cybercriminals connect with their victims through social media platforms (IG, FB, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.). It usually starts by sending a friend request. After the victim accepts it, they soon form a conversation. They can also publish a link that sounds irresistible (“put your data and win a car”).

Social media phishers steal data and sell it on the dark web.

Depending on the social media platform, phishers use different tactics to gain victims’ trust. Here are some examples:

How to Prevent Social Media Phishing

One of the things we hear as kids a lot is not to speak to strangers. It applies to the Internet too. However, the majority of young people neglect this advice for obvious reasons. Below, see how to protect yourself from scammers on social media:

  1. Accept friend requests with caution. Before befriending someone that you do not know, carefully examine the account. There are several things to pay attention to:
    • the kind of information the person publishes,
    • when the account is registered,
    • who accepts their friend requests,
    • and how real everything looks. 
  2. Avoid links that request personal data. No social media platform will ask its users to click an outside link to update their personal information. Check with the official customer support if you are unsure. Internet users should apply the principle better safe than sorry
  3. Create a unique login and password for each platform. Do not use the same password across all your online accounts. If one account gets compromised – all of them will. It is always better to have unique login details for each platform as well. 
  4. Make sure not to reveal personal info. Do not publish your address, phone number, or place of work on your social media account for your safety. Also, do not reveal this info to strangers in conversations.
  5. Check whether the account is verified when approached with offers. When you get a strange message, or an offer to buy or sell something on social media, first check if the account is verified. Do not send money to anyone before that.  
  6. Ask yourself why the person is interested in detailed data. Always be cautious if someone shows too much interest in your personal affairs. There is no need to reveal your data to anyone. Even your friends might have been hacked, so be careful.


There is a type of malware that specifically targets the camera on your device. When your system becomes infected, the operator (the cybercriminal) will view everything recorded. They will also gain access to the camera controls, turning them on and off without the user’s knowledge. This process is referred to as camfecting.

Anyone is at risk of camfecting.

Despite this, many could be asking why to bother worrying about potential hackers seeing you at home. It might seem like a low-priority concern. However, the truth about camfecting is that it is not an easy feat to accomplish. That is to say, the affected person is targeted for a specific purpose.

There are several main reasons why someone’s device might be camfected:

  1. Stalking.

Cybercriminals that have access to the camera can monitor a person in their most intimate setting. They can learn the user’s routine, especially if a camera has access to geo-location features. It endangers the person physically and psychologically, violating their right to privacy.

  1. Blackmailing.

Every hack is an opportunity to look for information that can be used against you. Camfecting is another way of gaining access to your details, such as photos and files. Cybercriminals can use these against you in the long run for money extortion.

  1. Burglary or theft.

Hacking isn’t always the full extent of the crime that a person is willing to commit. Sometimes, criminals will be scoping out a place through webcams to look for valuables. Memorizing your routine and the layout of your home gives these people the data necessary for a break-in.

  1. Further hacking.

A camera can give its operator access to a lot more than just its immediate surroundings. It is also a way of obtaining passwords and security details. In these cases, cybercriminals will learn everything they can about you to commit identity theft or hijack your financial accounts.

How to Prevent Camfecting

We know what you’re thinking – it is pretty simple to pin a sticker on your camera and be done with it. These days, you can even buy webcam covers that can be easily removed for video calls. However, we want to remind you of two things:

First, the hacker will still have access to the camera’s audio, if not the image.

Second, any device can become camfected, including your phone and tablet. This is why our tips can become essential in protecting yourself against this type of malware.

File-Sharing Risks

As you can tell by now, sharing information on the Internet can be dangerous. Yet, it is precisely the case when you download and send files. People do not realize how easy it is for a third party to capture them and or access your details. That’s why we will talk about file-sharing risks.

What is file-sharing.

What risks does this technology introduce?

  1. Hackers can gain access to your sensitive data. When using peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications, you are opening up your device to unauthorized people. It is impossible to track how many individuals accessed it. Simply by visiting a P2P website, you can be susceptible to various forms of fraud.
  2. You may participate in criminal activity against your will. Some files on peer-to-peer sharing websites can be pirated. You can download them without knowing that, but it will not save you from fines and legal action. Students are always looking for ways to get free books. However, you can get in trouble with your university and authorities if you download pirated materials.
  3. Attackers can infect your software with a virus. It is challenging to protect your device on its own, let alone when using a peer-to-peer sharing service. You may download a zipped folder with incorporated Trojan horses, worms, spyware, and viruses.
  4. You become susceptible to an attack. Inadvertently you become an easy target for attackers because the files you download can include spyware. The infected documents can be named as the materials you are looking for. Unfortunately, you do not have any control over it.
  5. New files can break your defense system. Some software can open a firewall to allow unauthorized files on your device. You might not even know that attackers are capturing information from your laptop or computer.

Pro Tip:

You can try out some secure file-sharing programs. We understand that you have to share files with many people throughout your academic career. For that reason, you need to secure your device, information, and files in the best way possible. These programs can help you:

  1. is a cloud-based system with file-sharing features. Simply upload files to the server and send links to people you want to provide access to.  
  2. Dropbox Business allows individuals to share access to files and folders with others. The service has a free plan for private usage.  
  3. WeTransfer Pro is a free file transmission system that has file access tracking built in it. You don’t need an account to send documents.
  4. G Suite Google Drive lets you store, share, access files from any device. And you get 15GB of free storage.  
  5. OneDrive is free for your first 5GB of data. However, if you want advanced security and 1TB of storage, sign up with Microsoft 365 Personal for $69.99 per year. 


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