September is always a month of change: a new season, a new school year and thousands of students heading off to further education for the first time. But as students head into the exciting new world, it's worth pointing out the online risks facing all undergraduates.
Here are a few tips to help students protect their data and accounts from the threat of cyber crime.
Think before you click on a link
Phishing attacks, where criminals impersonate well-known companies to try and steal your personal data, are increasingly common, especially now that devices store a large amount of user information. Take care with URLs sent via SMS, messaging apps such as Whatsapp, or email. To avoid becoming a victim, always go to the sender's official website instead of clicking on the link in the message.
Use a different password for everything!
Having to think of a different password for the platforms you use every day is a pain, we know this. It’s hard to remember them all, and it would be so much easier to use the same one for everything. But there is no greater joy for a hacker than to come across such a user.
Any student who relies on a “one password fits all” approach could see all their accounts hacked in record time. To avoid this, it’s essential to create a unique password for each app or service. A secure password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass can be used and is encouraged.
Avoid downloading attachments from strangers
An email attachment from an unknown sender can be a gateway for all kinds of cyber attacks such as malware or phishing attacks capable of infecting the entire device and stealing all the information and data stored on it. If, in addition, the device is used for teleworking or is connected to a larger network, it could cause more serious and more extensive damage.
Never access unprotected public Wi-Fi
It is important to bear in mind that anyone, including hackers, can connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi. By being on the same network, criminals can gain access to everything stored on your device. There will always be a risk when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, so think twice before doing so.
Surfing unencrypted websites
It’s vital to make sure that the website you are accessing has an SSL certificate. This technology ensures that the internet connection is encrypted and protects any sensitive information sent between two systems by preventing cybercriminals from viewing and modifying any data being transferred, including data that could be considered personal.
It’s easy to spot it by looking at the start of the address line or URL which should show an "s" after the letters http. So only click when you know the site is genuine and you see - https://
Be alert to student loan scams
We recently reported that Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire Alert had issued a warning to university students to be vigilant when it comes to student loan scams. But it's not just Derbyshire students who should take heed of their advice. It applies to everyone. Our blog 'University Students Are Being Warned To Be Vigilant of Student Loan Scams' has the full details.
If you work in the education sector and would like further information about cyber security for your institution and/or your students and end users, contact a member of the EMCRC today on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).