Some good basic tips for protecting students entering college this fall:

QUOTE: However, before a laptop heads to college, there are steps that parents and students can take to ensure its safety.  First, parents should make sure there is anti-virus software installed on the machine, whether it’s a PC or a Mac.

Often a new computer will come with a free anti-virus trial period, which can be extended for a fee. It’s also important to make sure that all software on the computer is updated, or has automatic updates turned on. “If you have [a] system updated, but an old application that’s vulnerable, you’re hosed,” said Andy Willingham, an Internet security expert and blogger in Cincinnati.

Johnson also recommends using the NoScript add-on for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser. This free solution helps block drive-by downloads and generally offers more online security.  Another big issue for college kids is to be aware of the information that is shared when they log into social-media sites, Willingham said.

“Just be really careful that you are using different passwords for different sites,” he said.  That way, online criminals and identity thieves who’ve gotten ahold of one password can’t steal information from other sites.  Willingham also advises students not to access financial sites from public Wi-Fi networks, and to ask their schools if secured networks are available on campus.

“The last thing is to simply be vigilant,” Johnson said.