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The rise of certain technological advancement has come hand in hand with an innate understanding that technological disruption would find its way into the academic industry the world over. And it has. Thanks to technology, the education sector is ripe with digital revolutions and tech investments, making learning and teaching easier for individuals who are part of the education system and those who are going through the education system. When they first step foot on campus, many students are excited and largely – if not completely – unaware of the importance and the measures of privacy they are going to have to take to ensure their personal information and data stays private.

Because of technology’s rise in the global academic industry, students and teachers alike have been using digital versions of traditional learning and teaching ideals more and more. For example, lectures are recorded now, and students can watch them at their leisure. Textbooks and assessment submissions have gone digital. Students have course portals that are primarily – if not solely – centred online through the university website. All this increased use of technology means that more of their data is online than ever before. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it also means that students are beginning to (thankfully) take more active measures to ensure their private data remains private.

Fresh faced and excited for the journey ahead, many new students do not know the definition of a VPN, much less what it can do to help them protect themselves on their devices and online. As if this was not enough of a task, students are at risk of their information being passed on to other parties from the very universities that they attend. It may not all be intentional, but the lack of protection universities can offer their students when they are not on campus is a crucial point. The data collected by universities can be shown or shared with other parties. What this means is that students have little to no understanding of how far their personal information could be travelling. Becoming more aware of this, students are installing tech innovations like VPNs and cybersecurity software to protect themselves more easily and more securely.

The increased use of technology has been life-changing for us, but it has also come with its downfalls – increased risk of disruptions and invasions of digital privacy being one of them. University students are among the most at risk individuals in the world, owing to the fact that universities are a wealth of digital knowledge now, and hackers and third parties have more opportunity to take active advantage of this than ever before. Students have noticed this, and are going to more of an effort to protect themselves via all technological inputs. The rise of technology has come with a rise of awareness and insight into why it is so important to protect ourselves and our digital presences. University students more than anyone else, arguably, are privy to this realisation and have taken active steps to ensure their security.