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What could you really lose in a hack?

By Cyber Aware
What could you really lose in a hack?

Have you ever thought about what your email account says about you? It might give away more than you think. From timetables and course research to notes from tutors, email is part of daily life for students. Not being able to use your online accounts due to a cyber-attack is more than just annoying; it can have serious consequences for your course, your finances and your future career. Dealing with the aftermath of an attack could mean problems accessing your bank account and ultimately your money, losing that essay you spent all night writing or being impersonated which could affect your future career prospects.

As our offline lives are becoming more intrinsically linked to our online lives, the government’s Cyber Aware campaign wants to remind people that our email accounts can reveal some of our most private information. This, and the fact that we know from our research that younger people are more likely to take risks online is why it’s vitally important to help educate each other on cybersecurity and how to stay safe online.

Your email account is a gateway to a vast amount of information and hackers are able to exploit a weak email password leaving you vulnerable to the risk of identity theft. Exam results, emails from your university or a job offer: it’s worth remembering that your personal information is valuable to you, but it’s also valuable to hackers and cybercriminals. Think about the emotional value of your inbox and treat it in the same way you treat treasured possessions in the offline world.

To avoid putting yourself at risk, we have some simple steps that could really make a difference:

   • Make sure your email password is strong and separate to your 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 — this protects your most important accounts if hackers gain access to your password manager.
   • 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.

The Student Guide Magazine


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