Staying cyber safe at university: Tips from recent graduates

As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, it’s crucial that security remains front of mind for everyone, especially for university students as they adapt to virtual learning. We asked two recent graduates at NCC Group, Sophia McCall and Sarah Kingham, to share their top security tips for students starting or returning to their studies at university.

Stay private

We live in a world where sharing our day-to-day lives on social media is the norm, but that doesn’t mean we have to share it with everyone. There are often little details that malicious actors can piece together from a person’s social media presence, so if you want to protect yourself, turn features like geo-tagging off and make sure your social media accounts are at their highest privacy settings.

Use strong passwords

Strong password hygiene is so important, and many people – not just students – forget to use different passwords for each account or application they use. Password managers are a great way of staying on top of this, especially if you have several accounts across your devices. When you can, also try to enable multi-factor authentication – this adds a second layer of protection for your account and sensitive information.

Only connect to trusted networks

It can be difficult – especially for first-years who are living in halls – to know if the network you are connecting to is trusted. Often or not, a trusted one will have a password that you will have been supplied with, either by the halls or your university.

Be wary of free online tools and resources

As a student, it can be tempting to download anything and everything, especially if it’s a free tool, but try to stick to the mantra: it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. When downloading any tools or files, make sure it’s coming from a trusted source – many universities will have hubs for key pieces of information or software needed during your studies. Anti-virus is a great layer of defence as it will be able to detect any fraudulent files or malicious websites.

Keep software and devices up-to-date

This is another basic security principle that many people know they need to do regularly, but don’t. The updates are there for a reason– often or not, they address a number of important security issues. Once you get into the habit of it though, it’s so easy and can save a lot of headaches later down the line.

Don’t be afraid to report issues

More than anything, students should never be afraid to report when something has gone wrong, such as downloading a malicious file they didn’t mean to. Reporting this to the university’s IT team as soon as possible ensures that the problem is dealt with effectively and the right measures are put in place to protect yours and any other information affected by the malware.


Image credit: Freepik