College—it’s not just a time for growing into the responsible individual you most assuredly will become, it’s also a time to experiment and make mistakes. However, with the rise of the Internet comes the potential for these mistakes to be broadcast to a much larger audience—not to mention the long-lasting impacts it could have on your reputation and future career. When it comes to social media, there is such a thing as bad press, and it has the potential to place embarrassing or sensitive information in front of other students, professors, friends, family and potential hiring companies.
And yet, more and more students are communicating publicly over Facebook and embracing other wildly popular mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat—over text or email messaging. Such group chat programs are a convenient way to send targeted messages to a mass of people without using your minutes or bothering with a bulky email directory, if used properly.
With the benefits of group-messaging in mind, Quad and Campus Quad apps are arriving at colleges across the country in an effort to become the next Facebook for students. Quad, from Apsurdity, centralizes college group communications and chat functionality into one mobile venue. Where other messaging apps max out at 50 participants in a single message thread, Quad allows you up to 500. Where updates and messaging on Facebook and Twitter sends a blanket message to everyone, Quad organizes these as a public, private or completely hidden messaging platform for different groups—and groups within a group. It’s a neat solution to a near-universal problem, so it’s no wonder it’s already being used at more than 4,000 of the 4,500 colleges across the U.S.
Campus Quad is another app aiming to change the face of college communication. They are looking to eliminate the clutter of outdated list servers, bulletin boards and even Facebook notifications. Campus Quad utilizes location-based photo flyers, events, coupons and classified ads to make it easy for users to create and post to their campus community, all in one app.
While exceedingly convenient, and capable of connecting hundreds of co-eds campus-wide, these types of apps can pose a significant security risk to the students who use them. For example, forgetting a smartphone or tablet in a bar, cab, class or frat party, can expose your personal data or entire social calendar and school information to anyone who looks. That is, unless you have proactively set measures in place to protect your phone in the event of loss or theft, such as a password/PIN code, and biometric security (if possible), as well as location-tracking. Additionally, app lock features can help keep your social profiles from being hijacked in the event a device falls into the wrong hands.
However, even when all precautions are taken, sensitive data could still end up in the wrong hands when taking into account the issue of over sharing. College is indeed a time to experiment and make mistakes, but what happens if personal antics make it onto a mass messaging circuit? Once that information is out there, it can never be taken back. Furthermore, with newer apps like Quad and Campus Quad, there are numerous opportunities for hackers to gain access to information through a literal treasure trove of situations, such as phishing attempts, or other targeted attacks. Users do not always have the proper security measures in place to protect their data—and oftentimes safety is compromised for the sake of convenience.
While mobile messaging is here to stay, users must stay conscious of the potential vulnerabilities—especially when access to sensitive information is placed in the hands of multiple people. Taking the risks into consideration, here are a few tips to keep your information, and the information of others, safe when using group-messaging apps:
- Don’t send sensitive information over messages. Beware of what you share when using mobile messaging apps. If you wouldn’t shout it out loud, then it’s private enough to be done in person.
- Know exactly what information your apps are accessing. Don’t just assume your apps aren’t misbehaving behind the scenes. McAfee® Mobile Security offers an app protection feature for Android devices that tells you what data each app is using.
- Use different passwords and PINs across your devices and accounts. For different accounts and devices, use unique passwords and/or PINs to stay secure. Avoid choosing predictable words or numerical combinations like your birthday or “pa$$word”.
- Enable location-tracking features on your device. In the event a device is lost or stolen, location-tracking features can improve the odds of retrieving it or remotely wiping any sensitive information from afar. This feature and more is also available with McAfee Mobile Security.
- Protect your devices with comprehensive security. Set safety precautions in place for every Internet-enabled device you own. Install security software like McAfee Mobile Security, available for iOS and Android devices to help you secure your mobile devices.
In today’s expanding mobile world, it’s important to be aware of security trends. Keep up to date with the latest in threats and mobile safety by following us on Twitter @McAfeeConsumer and Like us on Facebook.