From essay writing to course research to watching the latest boxset, using the internet is a part of daily life for students. Not being able to use their personal devices and online accounts because of a cyber attack is more than just annoying – it could have serious consequences for their course, or their finances.
Dealing with the aftermath of an attack could mean students have trouble accessing their bank account, losing that essay they spent all night writing, or being impersonated and defrauded.
Research by the government's Cyber Aware campaign shows that younger people are more likely to take risks online, so it’s vitally important to educate students about cyber security and how to stay safe online. The research indicated students are much more likely than older people to download or stream illegal content and are also more likely to “jail break” their phones.
Know the risks
Jailbreaking, or rooting, switches off software restrictions placed by manufacturers on a smartphone, allowing users to download and install apps that aren’t available through official app stores. But that's not all: such actions can also leave smartphones vulnerable to malicious software or applications, which can infect devices, or even delete data. Imagine the consequences of losing valuable information such as CVs, essays and photos?
What many students don’t realise is that jail-breaking will also invalidate a phone’s warranty and can mean the student will no longer receive software updates, which often contain security patches designed to fix vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
Behaviours like this are really putting students at risk, but the government’s Cyber Aware campaign promotes some simple steps that could really make a difference to online safety:
- Make your email password strong and separate to other passwords. This will help protect the personal information in your inbox, which could be valuable to hackers.
- Activate two-step authentication on your email. This provides an extra layer of security, as it means your account can only be accessed on a device that you have already registered.
- Only use password managers to store passwords for your less important accounts.
- Always back-up your most important data. If your device is infected by a virus, malicious software (malware) or accessed by a hacker, your data may be damaged, deleted or held to ransom by ransomware, which means you won’t be able to access it. Always make sure you have another copy of it.
- Don’t ”jail-break" or “root” your smartphone as this can mean you no longer receive software updates designed to keep your device secure from hackers.
For more advice on simple ways to be more secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website.