Should You Be Using Campus WiFi? 5 Things You Need to Know

Even if the project you're working on doesn't require the internet, it can be hard to pass up the opportunity to browse the web for free.

It’s not uncommon for new students to arrive at college a bit unprepared, which is why I’m glad offers such great information for students who might not have valuable resources already on hand. If you’ve not yet started college but have already been accepted, consider checking out these tips for students moving off to college.

Even if the project you're working on doesn't require the internet, it can be hard to pass up the opportunity to browse the web for free.
Even if the project you’re working on doesn’t need the internet, it can be hard to pass up the opportunity to browse the web for free.

Even if the project you’re working on doesn’t require the internet, it can be hard to pass up the opportunity to browse the web for free. With many students acquiring large amounts of debt while in college, they may have to go without home internet service to cut down on the costs of living. But that doesn’t mean they want to cut down on their internet use!

The internet brings a lot to the table and can be very helpful for students overall. Online, they can find everything from practice quizzes and PowerPoints to classroom-focused social media groups that allow them to keep in touch with all of their classmates without sharing their phone number. Professors often correspond with their students through email as well, so the internet can be essential for some students.

To stay up to date with everything happening on the net, many students are turning to the campus WiFi out of convenience. Some students simply don’t have the time to access the internet at home, while others have decided to avoid paying for it. Utilizing what the campus has to offer sounds like a great alternative to paying out of pocket, but should you really be using the WiFi they offer?

Here are five things about campus WiFi you should know before you connect to it.

  1. Guest Networks Are Less Secure

It’s not uncommon for colleges to have two different wireless networks available on campus: one of which requires you to enter in your credentials and one that is intended for guests. Although connecting to the guest network can be more convenient since you don’t have to log in, it can be a bad idea if your computer isn’t properly secured.

The problem is that the guest networks on campus are open to the public so you could be sharing the network with just about anyone. It’s similar to using the public WiFi at your local cafe. Though there are risks involved with using the campus WiFi in general, the guest network is perhaps the riskiest option.

Public WiFi can easily be used by hackers that are looking to steal your information and what better place for them to do so than a college campus that is full of people? Even if you realize something is going on, it’ll be nearly impossible to track down the perpetrator when it could literally be anyone on campus.

  1. It Can Be Limited

Some colleges might limit your access to certain websites or block them entirely, creating the need for you to access the net elsewhere. This may not be true for every college but consider what you’re looking at online while on campus regardless, as privacy could be lacking. The college may have access to your browsing history, for example, so keep that in mind when you’re surfing the net!

  1. Speeds Could Vary

Depending on the amount of people using the WiFi at the same time as you, the speed could vary. Unlike home internet that is wired, wireless networks can have interference in the signals which could be cause for a very unfavorable browsing session. WiFi is a notoriously bad option if you’re trying to stream video in high definition, for example, as your video could be interrupted on multiple occasions.

Sometimes you may get lucky, and you won’t have such a hard time, but the take home here is that WiFi isn’t always reliable for every online activity. Wired internet is certainly a better option if you plan on streaming so try to stick to the campus WiFi for tasks like Googling information, sending emails, and reading articles.

Relocating to a different spot on campus can sometimes help with connection issues, but the speed can still vary regardless.

  1. There’s A Possibility Of Fake Networks

Always be sure that you’re connecting to the correct wireless network on campus. Confirm you have the right one with your college if need be, as there’s a possibility of fake networks being set up in an attempt to steal your personal information or infect your device with malware.

All of your internet-enabled devices could be susceptible, so even if you’re just connecting to the WiFi on your tablet or smartphone, confirm that you have the right network. Sometimes fake networks will be listed with a title that might be similar to the usual one you connect to on campus, so look out for subtle differences in the titles of each network when you’re about to connect to them. This is why endpoint security is so important..

  1. It Requires Additional Protection

If you really want to protect your information and device while using the campus WiFi, it’s going to require a little protection on your part. Besides looking out for the clues of malicious activity (like fake networks), you should consider utilizing internet security software on all of your devices. It’ll not only protect you on campus but also anywhere else you connect to the internet (so if using the free WiFi in Starbucks is a habit of yours, no need to worry).

Start off with an anti-virus program if you don’t already have one, which will allow you to scan for and remove certain viruses. After you’ve got that installed, try a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that will encrypt your connection. An anti-virus won’t do anything to secure your connection, unfortunately, which is why it’s not recommended to use one program without the other.

Besides encrypting your connection (which secures your internet connection no matter your location), the VPN service will unblock geo-restricted websites for you and assist you in maintaining your privacy online. For more information and tips on finding the best VPN, check out this review by Secure Thoughts.

Whether or not you should use the campus WiFi will ultimately be your decision to make. Though there are some security risks, there’s no need to worry as long as you have your devices properly secured before connecting to the internet. And if you’re one of the many students who really needs to cut down on the cost of living by not paying for home internet service, the security software is definitely the better deal!

Do you tend to use the WiFi on campus? Why or why not? Share your views with us in the comments.

About the Author: Cassie Phillips is a student and blogger who enjoys sharing her knowledge of internet security with others. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging about the risks associated with improper internet use, as well as writing about tips that could benefit her fellow students.

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