Cybersecurity Information for Students

There are many cybersecurity threats out there, but it is important to remember that most of them are avoidable.The following practices can help protect you from these threats.

Beware of Fake Job Offers, Phishing, and Other Scams


Be cautious of fake job offers, phishing attempts, and other scams, as they can lead to financial loss, identity theft, and compromise your personal and online security. To avoid being fooled by these schemes:

  • Learn more about Job Offer Scams in which someone contacts you, usually by email, and invites you to apply for or start a job.
  • Learn about Avoiding Phishing Emails and visit The Phish Bowl to see the latest phishing messages received by UCSC students, staff, and faculty before you interact with unexpected, urgent, or too good to be true emails.
  • See Beware of Scams for more information about protecting yourself from scams.

Protect Your Online Privacy (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.)

By using strong passwords, being cautious about sharing personal details, and being aware of privacy settings on social media, you can better control who has access to your information and reduce the risk of cyberbullying or identity theft. You should also:

Enable Automatic Updates

checkmark imageUpdates fix problems in your operating system (the basic program that runs your computer/device), software, and apps. Out-of-date devices are especially vulnerable to viruses and hackers. To protect yourself:

  • Turn on automatic updates for your computer, antivirus software, and all apps. Install updates as soon as you receive notifications that they are available.
  • Shut down or restart your computer once a week. This helps make sure software and security updates are properly installed to protect your computer and keep it running smoothly.
  • Remember to sync mobile devices often so you get available updates. Always install updates when your carrier tells you they are available.

Know the Risks of File Sharing

Although file sharing is not in itself illegal, if you share or download copyrighted material without permission–even unwittingly–you are breaking both the law and UC policy and could be subject to University, criminal, and/or civil sanctions. Please see Copyright Education for more information. In addition to legal concerns, file sharing can expose your computer to a number of security risks. For example:

  • Improperly configured file-sharing software can allow others access to your entire computer, not just to the files you intend to share.
  • Viruses and malware can be transmitted by file-sharing software.
  • Files offered by others may not always be what they say they are.

To Reduce File-Sharing Risks:

  • Run up-to-date anti-malware software. This is required for Macs and PCs on campus! Visit Computer Virus and Malware Information for information on free anti-malware software for UCSC faculty, staff, and students.
  • Make sure your file-sharing software is configured to only share the files you intend to share.
  • Turn file sharing off when you’re not actively using it to avoid unknowingly sharing personal or copyrighted files.
  • Use legal file-sharing services for obtaining music, movies, TV, games, books, etc. on the Internet. A large list of digital music, videos, and other services is available from Educause at Legal Sources of Online Content.

Use Google Services Safely and Securely



Google is great for email and its many otherapps and tools.To use these services safely and securely:

  • Make sure to visit Google Apps Security to learn how to protect your account and private information.
  • Send and store files securely with Virtru, Google’s recommended access and encryption service.
  • Visit Google's Safety Center for more information on using Google service safely.

Protect Mobile Devices

Every day, mobile devices are lost, stolen, and infected, and they need to be protected like any other computers. See Mobile Devices and Wireless for information about:

  • Protecting mobile devices
  • Preventing theft or loss
  • Using wireless networks securely

Connect Securely

creepy eyeball

Random wireless hotspots are not secure, and using them can put your passwords and other data at risk. To protect your privacy:

Protect Your Passwords

It is crucial to protect your passwords, as they are the first line of defense against unauthorized access to personal accounts and sensitive information. To ensure that others don’t have the chance to use your accounts maliciously:

  • Don’t share your password with anyone. ITS will never ask you for your password. Neither should anyone else. Learn more at Protect Passwords.
  • Use unique passwords for each account. Remembering all of them can be difficult, and password managers are a safe way to digitally store passwords until you need them. Visit CNET’s Best Password Manager page for a list of recommended password managers.

Lock Your Door and Watch Your Stuff

Theft can happen anywhere. Although it is easy to feel safe on campus or living with other students, thefts happen and items go missing every week! Whether you live in the dorms, an on-campus apartment, or off-campus, be sure to:

  • Keep your door locked to help prevent theft—don't rig your dorm room door to just push open.
  • Lock your vehicle and keep valuables out of sight—or don't store them in your vehicle at all.
  • Keep an eye on your backpack in public places.
  • Visit Physical Security for more tips on how to prevent theft of information and property.