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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

Dorm Dangers: Living the Dorm Life and Protecting Against Keylogging

When living in a dormitory environment, college students can be prone to a number of different identity theft risk factors. Identity thieves sometimes target students’ computers for the mine of critical information they can provide, and keylogging remains a top threat to user security. Taking steps to protect against keylogging may help college students avoid having their personal data exposed to identity thieves, who may use that information to take advantage of their good credit score.

What is keylogging?
Keyloggers track which keys a user hits when typing on a keyboard, often used by identity thieves as an attempt to decipher user names or passwords. There are types of malware that can install a keylogging program onto a computer, however there are also legitimate programs that come with keylogging capabilities. Employers, for instance, may use such measures to monitor the behaviors of their workers, though the ethical and legal implications of that action continue to be debated.

Consider anti-keylogging protection
Standard anti-virus protection does check for keylogging malware, which could help college students avoid possible identity theft. However, some keyloggers are part of legitimate programs, making it possible for them to avert normal anti-virus scans. It may be beneficial for college students and their parents to consider anti-keylogging protection, which can encrypt the data users type into their keyboard, protecting their passwords, log-ins and account numbers. For college students, who often surf the Web on unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots on and around campus, that type of protection can be vital in the fight against identity theft.

Avoid keeping personal data on a computer
Though keylogging can be a way for identity thieves to covertly gather personal data, such as log-ins or passwords, there are a number of other ways for them to find that information. Some college students may keep a list of passwords or account numbers saved on their computer, and spyware can find those files and pass them on to identity thieves. Students should avoid storing that type of information on their computer in an easy-to-access format. That also applies to email — students are advised to delete any emails that contain account logins, numbers, passwords or any other vital information. If identity thieves are able to obtain a student’s email password, it can be simple for them to mine that source for any other critical information, putting that student at risk for identity theft and potentially compromising his or her credit reports and scores.