Students: Prioritize your risks!

I was greeted this morning by an article by Marc Saltzman for USA Today in my Apple News feed. The article posted under Cybersecurity was titled “Why college students need to use a VPN – and how to pick the right one”. While it is a well written article that makes it’s case by pointing out privacy risks; I have to point out that before concerning themselves with risks to their privacy students should have a plan to backup their data that than leaving that others and hoping for the best.

Anyone using Microsoft Office 365 has access to a great backup solution in OneDrive. Perhaps the biggest issue with OneDrive is that so few users actually take a few minutes to figure out how it works. Microsoft has a series of videos and documentation that explain how to deploy OneDrive as a backup solution for your computer, tablet, or smartphone; both for Windows and Mac. It’s hard to beat OneDrive’s price as it is (not free but) bundled with Office 365.

And then there is Google and Drive. If you have a GMail account you already have access to Drive. Like OneDrive, Google Drive works with desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. For great information about setting up students access to Drive see the Google Drive blog and I’d also recommend this article.

While backup to the Cloud is great nothing beats actually holding your backup device in your hand and knowing it contains your valuable data. The local backup solution that I use and recommend is True Image by Acronis. The Acronis True Image 2021 solution adds some great antimalware features to their already great local backup solution. Think about it; you want to make sure that your are not backing up malware or any kind of malicious threat. True image provides active protection by scanning files for a wide variety of threats. Acronis added vulnerability assessment capabilities to their 2021 product. Free to try Acronis True Image costs just $50 per year to buy.

Virtual Private Networking (VPNs) can secure your connections through the web browser and many other tools; protecting your privacy from your service provider or institution / school. But on the downside common features such as geolocation that allows you to find local resources such as services or stores may not work. Accidental and intentional data loss are important risks that I’d suggest students address first.