How to Keep Your Identity Safe When Using Campus WiFi

Image by Omar Prestwich,

You’re going to need to use the internet a lot when you’re on campus. Your campus probably provides WiFi for everyone, and while that seems generous, the problem with that public WiFi is that everyone has to share it. It’s a lot like a public swimming pool that isn’t actively being maintained. Before you dive into that campus WiFi, make sure you’re doing it safely. Your personal information could be at stake, and all it takes is a single computer sciences student with dubious intentions to mess things up for everyone.

Don’t Postpone Updates

When you’re finished with your school work, you probably want to run straight to your Netflix Queue or check your YouTube subscriptions. This may lead to you clicking the “Remind me later” button on those important antivirus software updates. Don’t do it. Vulnerabilities change every day, and hackers are only getting smarter. If an update has been released, it’s because the added protection is necessary. Let your updates run while you’re taking a shower or eating lunch if you need to – just don’t skip them.

Be Smart With Your Passwords

Having a million different passwords can get confusing, but using the same password for everything is foolish. No matter what you do, it’s even worse when you keep the same password for a really long time. Make sure you’re changing up your passwords every few weeks, and don’t use passwords that are easy to guess. It’s okay to use something easy to remember, such as the name of your favorite movie, but make sure you’re making it difficult for others to figure out. Incorporate uppercase characters, numbers, and symbols.

Use a VPN if You Can

VPNs are the most secure way to browse the internet. You may be connected to campus WiFi, but you’re in your own private tunnel. VPNs encrypt all of your activity, so lurking cyber predators won’t know what you’re doing. This is especially important if you store your bank information in your Amazon account, or if you’re a frequent online shopper. Every VPN is different, so do your research. You might want to find the best VPN for Windows 10, or the best VPN for your phone. They may be completely different.

Check Your Automatic Connection Settings

Both phones and computers come equipped with the option to automatically connect to any available network. You might assume you’re using your campus WiFi when you’re actually connected to something that belongs to a total stranger. Make sure you know which networks you’re connecting to from any internet enabled devices you use. Set all connection settings to manual, because your device may not always choose what’s best for you.

Make Sure You Know What You’re Sharing

Almost anything on your computer can be shared with other people on the same network. This is more than just Bluetooth devices or printers. All of your photos and documents could be accessible to anyone else using the same connection that you’re using. Make sure all sharing options are turned off to keep your information private. You don’t want to work hard on a paper only to find out that your roommate turned in something almost exactly the same. You also don’t want your educators to see photos of you on Spring Break.


You might be used to the way your internet connection worked at home, but on campus, everything is different. Make sure you’re protecting yourself from vulnerabilities at school, as well as at the coffee shops or popular study spots you frequent with your peers.

This article was contributed by guest author Amelia Dermott.