Do college students care about privacy?

The world of data privacy, access control, and cyber hygiene is uncharted territory for most college students.

I never used to worry about where I stored my passwords, and, frankly, I was annoyed with my university’s two-factor authentication system.

Now, as an intern at LockDown, I have inevitably become invested in the cybersecurity landscape, but, interestingly, my friends who don’t work at LockDown have too.

It’s no secret that the rise in remote work has led to an influx of cyberattacks worldwide.

With zoom bombings on the rise and classes being conducted fully online, cyber hygiene (specifically the lack thereof) has started to directly affect the lives of myself and my peers.

Since the fall semester began, I’ve noticed an astonishing increase in privacy conversations among college students.

As young people begin to engage with cybersecurity and privacy, what does this mean for the future of the cyber industry?

Zoom bombings have affected my accounting classes, my business fraternity, and even the business school as a whole.

My own personal connections to these bombings do not even put a dent in the scope of my university, and universities worldwide.

Phishing attacks are also on the rise.

I receive phishing emails almost weekly in my inbox, and many of these attacks are catered directly to college students.

Cyber criminals pose as employers offering internships and job opportunities, directly attacking the college student demographic.

This has not gone unnoticed among students, and is spurring conversations about cybersecurity across my campus at large.

One of the biggest privacy conversations on my campus surrounds the testing software, Proctorio.

Proctorio is a service that is meant to root out academic dishonesty when testing occurs online. Your camera, microphone, location, and screen activity can all be accessed by Proctorio while taking an exam.

Most professors require all students to download this software.

While academic dishonesty is a valid issue, especially with online classes, this software has posed massive concerns about privacy among students.

Room scans, identification checks and a strict monitoring system are all precautions that have begun to punish good students instead of rooting out dishonest ones.

As a member of my university’s student government, I have had many students come to me with concerns about Proctorio’s invasion of privacy.

I have worked with several of my colleagues on the Academic Affairs committee to field these questions and come up with solutions.

We have asked our university to reevaluate whether Proctorio aligns with their values and have conducted many difficult conversations with administrators.

We have also passed a resolution to enforce faculty training in order to avoid accidental flagging.

So, what is the big takeaway from all of this?

For me, it’s that young people are starting to care about cybersecurity.

Not because they want to or are fascinated by the industry, but because it is integral for their survival in a remote world.

Conversations about privacy and encryption are occurring at mass in a younger generation.

How should companies respond?

After talking to my peers, it is clear that we want to work for companies that have a cybersecurity plan.

We want to know that our data is protected by our employers. We want to see concrete plans for avoiding zoom bombings and phishing attacks. We need our employers to make privacy a priority, because it is for us.

Cybersecurity companies should make it a priority to welcome young people into this industry. Gen Z is more focused on innovation than any generation before.

We will be inheriting a workforce that is increasingly remote and dependent on efficient and iron clad cyber hygiene.

We have seen firsthand the effects of lackluster cybersecurity, and many of us have been victims of cyber attacks ourselves. Apathy towards data privacy ends with us.

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