Cybersecurity Back-to-School Checklist

By: Academic Technologies

Posted on: October 4, 2022

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month! In partnership with OSU’s Office of Information Security, we have created a back-to-school checklist for you to better protect yourself and your student’s information.

Today’s technology landscape is a powerful educational and social tool, but its hyper-connectedness can also put ourselves and our students at risk for scammers and cyber-attacks. Our identity – including our student data, medical records, credit card numbers, login credentials and other personal info – has value. Did you know your Social Security number is worth $30 to a criminal? Your date of birth can be sold for $11.

Taking steps to protect personal info and accounts, being savvy on social media, and owning your online presence is critical. Follow this back-to-school security checklist to get started right this year:

Be aware!

Look for device antivirus alerts, browser pop-ups or random unwanted sites, passwords that no longer work, friends saying they’ve received odd emails, or other suspicious behavior. If this occurs, perform an anti-virus scan on your device or reload your computer’s software/data from a backup. And change your passwords!

Be aware of phish emails.

Phish emails are emails sent from criminals looking to infect your computer or steal your information. Double-check embedded email links by hovering over the link to see its true destination. Look at the e-mail carefully, does the e-mail have an external banner at the top of it ([This email originated from outside of OSU. Use caution with links and attachments.])? Is the e-mail address really from an OSU account, if you hover over the name does it actually show something like

Practice safe computing.

Do not open unsolicited attachments or follow unsolicited links in email messages, use caution when downloading files, and browse wisely by avoiding suspicious websites. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of sharing your personal info in exchange for free products and services.

Be wary of used devices.

Wipe any previously owned device before using with professional software, or reset the device back to factory defaults.

Avoid oversharing on social media.

Even a check-in at your favorite coffee shop can reveal more than intended. Personal information shared on social sites can be the final puzzle piece hackers need to unlock identity theft.

Create long, strong and unique passwords.

For email, school logins and social media sites. A strong password is at least 12 characters long. Be careful not to reuse passwords across multiple accounts, and never share your passwords with anyone. Consider using a free password manager.

Use caution on public Wi-Fi.

When you’re working in a coffee shop, be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Never access or share personal or financial information over an unsecure network.

Be careful in the physical world.

Communal areas, busy classrooms and crowded libraries are perfect opportunities for malicious-minded individuals to steal your gear or “shoulder surf.”

Practice basic computer security hygiene.

Cyber hygiene includes practices like password or thumbprint protecting your device, encrypting your device, using antivirus software, installing the latest software updates, wiping a device before selling or donating, removing unnecessary software, enabling and configuring a firewall, and routinely backing up your data.

If you do become a victim of identity theft, file a police report and notify the credit bureaus. If your OSU credentials or email gets hacked, or if you have questions, please contact the OSU Office of Information Security via online form or call the OSU Service Desk at 541-737-8787. We are always willing to help!

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