Starting university or college can mean significant life changes – making new friends, studying in a new town, going to new places and living independently for the first time.

Technology will play a key role in your learning, from taking notes, doing research, writing essays, attending classes or just communicating with classmates or teachers.

This is an ideal time to review your cyber security and be aware of potential cyber risks.  You should put in place some basic security steps to help protect yourself and your data online.

Here are some helpful tips to help keep you secure online:

Secure your accounts with strong password

You will likely have to set up new academic accounts when you start your new term. It’s important to have a unique strong passwords across all your accounts to help keep the criminals out. Make sure yours is strong, longer and more memorable by combining three random word. Keep them to yourself and use separate ones for each online account. Password managers can help to securely remember your passwords, so you don’t have to.

You should use 2-Step Verification (also known as two-factor authentication) as an additional security layer for online banking, shopping and other confidential activities.

Don’t leave your possessions (laptop or phone) unattended, even in the library. Make sure you lock them when you’re not working on it to help keep your information secure.

Online Scams

Phishing is when criminals use fake emails or web links to get personal information, such as passwords, usernames, or bank account details. A compelling reason is often given to persuade you to go to a website or click on a link within an email or text message, often supposedly from a well-known company.

The websites often appear genuine but are designed to trick people into entering personal details. The criminal can then access your identity, steal from your bank account or infect your computer with a virus which allows them to control your system.

Avoid clicking on links in unexpected emails, texts and on social media, and email attachments. Forward actual or suspicious phishing emails to the NCSC suspicious reporting service via [email protected]

Suspicious text scams can be forwarded free of charge to 7726.

Check out our blog for more top tips for spotting the signs of a phishing attack.

Free or public Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi hotspots are very convenient, but are they safe? You could be connected to the same network as a criminal which could lead to them gaining access to everything stored on your device.  Don’t use public Wi-Fi hotspots for anything confidential. Consider tethering your laptop with your mobile device (use your 3G / 4G connection) to make your own virtual private network.

Social Networking

Social networking is a great way to keep in contact, especially if you’re away from home. However, think carefully about what you say and share about yourself online. Criminals seek out information on social networking sites to target individuals and properties, so take some basic precautions by reviewing your privacy setting. Be careful how much you reveal about where you are and what you’re doing online. Never share private or confidential information or material online.

Check your digital footprint regularly for what others have posted about you or tagged you in. Prospective employers may view your social media profiles.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud contact Police Scotland on 101. Police Scotland have put together this guide with important safety advice to help you avoid becoming a victim of crime.

Check out this student online safety leaflet for more tips and advice.

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Cyber Aware

Cyber Aware campaign offers actionable advice for people to protect password, accounts and devices.

Explore the 6 Cyber Aware actions you can take to keep yourself and your family and your business secure.

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