Growing up is not always the most fun activity. But we all do it and every year as college students we get closer to life on our own. We start to gain all the “grown up” things: debit/credit cards, a job, technology, etc.

A while ago, I wrote a blog about how the students each year coming into college have more and more electronics with them. But are we all aware of the privacy issues that come with all these new technological toys?

Let me start with debit/credit cards. I’ve had my debit card for a while now. The best part of having a debit card is the ability to buy stuff online. Put in your debit card information and a shipping address here to Gannon, then wait until it magically shows up. However, buying items online is not the safest way of purchasing items. You’re assuming the website you’re putting the card information into, which is connected to some form of money or very personal information, is safe. The Internet is a very scary place, full of people waiting to snatch information from the user, who may not be aware that the site they are on is fake (this is called a phishing scam.)

Here’s tip when dealing with sensitive information online as a Gannon student: Use Gannon’s network. If you connect to some network that you don’t know, you can risk other people being able to access that. Logging on to the Gannon network makes sure that your computer is up to par with standards and that you provide a username and password that is in the system. If you don’t, then it won’t even allow the computer on the network. This allows you, as a Gannon student, access to the network, and a hacker outside the school is denied access.

Let’s look at another example of using personal information with technology. All Gannon students have a student ID. We may not realize it, but think of how much you use the ID. You can buy material goods with your ID and, if you live on campus, you can get into one of the residence halls with it. There’s lots of important information linked to your card and you don’t want anyone running around doing whatever they want with it. The same goes for your debit or credit card. In the hands of someone else, a lot of damage can be caused using personal information.

The severities of these issues have come to my attention more recently due to the courses I am taking this semester, mainly my networking class. We talk a lot about how data is transferred between computers through the Internet. My networking class is very informative on how exactly information is sent and received and the process in between. Believe it or not, the information you send can be hacked by intercepting it in between the two computers. There are some really smart and malicious people out there who know how to hack your information. Fortunately, there are also equally smart people who are “the good guys” and write software to counter-act the work done by those trying to steal information.

– Dave

While were on the topic of money, take a look at some ways to save some of it while you’re in school.