One thing college students can do to protect their online privacy would be to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). In short, a VPN encrypts a users’ data so third parties are unable to view it. They are particularly useful while using public networks such as a Starbucks Wi-Fi because any individual with enough knowledge and malicious intent can view your data while you both are connected to the network. There was even a time when any person with a Firefox add-on called “firesheep” could log into your Facebook account as long as you were on the same network. Even Starbucks and AT&T recommended using a VPN: “If you have a VPN, AT&T recommends that you connect through it for optimum security” (found in their Terms and Conditions).

If you are unable to afford the monthly cost of a VPN, there are many free Internet based proxies available for casual Internet browsing. You can even use programs such as TOR, which passes your Internet traffic through at least three different servers (normal internet proxies only pass through one) and allows anonymous browsing of the Internet. If anonymity is the objective, some VPN providers allow you to pay with gift cards or Bitcoins so no identifying information is given. VPNs have many uses, but most importantly they protect your data while using public networks. If you are worried about protecting your privacy while browsing the Internet, a VPN is one of the best tools you can use to do so.