Top 7 Data Protection Tips for University Students

Freshers’ week is upon us and another year of university is about to begin. For university students of all ages, your journey into further education can be both exciting and stressful. While many students are experiencing true independence for the first time, it’s important to enjoy yourself, make new friends and find your feet. However, it’s also important to have safety in mind. We’ll be talking specifically about data safety, keeping your finances safe, and also keeping your university work safe. While we can’t promise that the peace of mind gained from knowing your data is well protected will take away 100% of university stresses, we hope it will help. Here are our top seven data protection tips for university students.

 Tip 1 – Going on a night out? Consider using a prepaid card.

For a lot of university students, the allure of cheap drinks, music and meeting new people can mean several nights a week are spent partying. If you’re the kind of person who tends to lose things on a night out, you could be putting yourself at the real risk of theft. Most bars and clubs now accept contactless payments. Therefore, all it takes is for you to drop your bank card on the floor, and in a few hours, someone could easily spend hundreds of pounds of your money. By using a prepaid card, you limit the amount of money that can be spent. So, even if you do end up losing it, a stranger won’t be able to max out your overdraft for you.

Bonus tip: If you’re going out, only take what you absolutely need. If you need ID get into a bar or club, put your ID away in a safe place once inside. A good place could be inside your coat in the cloakroom, or in a pocket that you won’t be reaching into throughout the night. In the wrong hands, these IDs could be used to steal your identity. Keep them safe.

Image of young people enjoying themselves in a night club

Tip 2 – Shop only on secure websites.

If you’re moving into halls, you’ll likely need to make a lot of purchases to furnish your residence. If you’re shopping online, be sure that the websites you’re buying from are secure. You can check if a site is secure just by looking at the web address. If secure, you should see a padlock and the URL should read https as below. Also, err on the side of caution when using public computers or networks when purchasing online, as these could be hunting grounds for data thieves.


Tip 3 – Be aware of what you share.

The temptation to share all of the exciting new things you’re up to on social media may be strong. However, make sure the information you’re sharing couldn’t be used maliciously. For example, if you’ll be leaving your dorms for a few days, you don’t want the world to know that all of your personal belongings and sensitive documents will be left unattended.

Another thing to be mindful of is your publicly viewable profile information. Many hirers will search for candidates on social media before interviews. If your profile features hundreds of public images of you with a bottle in your hand, this could paint you in a negative light. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no harm in you posting photos of your time spent with friends. These photographs can provide a way to share long and lasting memories. There however could be harm in not securing your privacy settings or posting photos your friends may not be comfortable with. Ensure your tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook images are set to private or friends only. It’s also good to make sure you have your friends’ permission when posting any images of them.


Tip 4 – Keep your passwords safe.

This may seem obvious, but many people do share their passwords. Be aware that throughout university, many students fall on financially and emotionally trying times, and may resort to desperate measures during trying times. Perhaps your roommate needs £20 to get them through the week but are too embarrassed to ask for it. Or, maybe your coursemate has left their assignment to the last minute. In a moment of panic, they may try to pass your work off as their own. Just to be on the safe side, don’t trust anyone with passwords to your phone or other devices. Try to use different passwords for different accounts, and do not store these where they are easily accessible. Instead, use a password manager, or keep them written down in a safe place.


Tip 5 – Back up your work and keep data storage devices safe.

Throughout your time at university, you will hear horror stories of nearly finished assignments being completely lost. Frequently back up your work onto the cloud, USBs or external hard drives, being sure to save every 30 minutes. Keep these devices safe at all times and, when no longer needed, have them shredded.


Tip 6 – Keep your paperwork secure.

On your journey through further education, you will undoubtedly end up with stacks of paperwork you should keep safe. Tenancy agreements, student finance documents, student bank account statements, paper copies of your assignments and many other documents could put you at risk of identity theft or plagiarism if not properly secured. Diversion safes that look like regular items such as books or even beer kegs can be purchased online for less than £20. That’s a small price to pay to keep your identity and hard work safe.

Tip 7 – Shred any documents or devices you no longer need.

Shredding unwanted documents and devices is the best way to ensure your data is safe from prying eyes. It’s also important to think about which documents contain confidential information – it may be more than you think. Even envelopes and post-it notes containing names and contact information could be used to commit identity theft. While it may seem the easiest option to tear these in half and throw them in the recycling or general waste bins, there is nothing stopping anyone from reaching into these bins and stealing your information. We would recommend using a shredding service for all paper waste and unwanted devices. With Shred Station, 100% of your paper will be recycled. For all other materials, we operate a zero to landfill policy.

Image of three newly graduated females celebrating

These top 7 tips are easy to implement, and we hope that removing these stresses can allow you to focus on studying hard and, of course, having a good time.

Does your university supply you with shred stations?

We provide secure shredding services to universities across the country. Many of these have shredding bins across campus specifically for student use. Our shredding bins are usually used for waste confidential paperwork, but we can provide bins for waste media storage too. This should cover everything you need securely disposed of, including sensitive documents and assignment drafts you don’t want getting into the wrong hands, all the way to old USBs, SD cards, sim cards, and even hard drives.

If you aren’t sure where the shredding bins are on your university campus, it may be worth asking your student union. If your university doesn’t yet provide shredding bins to students, why not suggest our services to your student representatives?

For more information on our shredding services for educational establishments, get in touch today.

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