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Education

Students open to IT risks

A record number of students (424,000) are estimated to be leaving home this month for their first taste of UK university; loaded with phones, tablets and laptops. Despite a quarter of teenagers reporting that they are “almost constantly” online, only half of students ensure they have the necessary security software installed to keep their devices and data safe according to an IT security product firm.

Security breaches and viruses are growing in prevalence and the recent McAfee Labs Quarterly Threat Report found that levels of mobile malware have hit a record high, growing 150 per cent year on year. With Intel Security’s latest research showing that more than 90 per cent of students log on to public Wi-Fi – whether it’s secure or not – in their campuses, bars and clubs, students are unknowingly opening the door to potential data breaches and viruses. For those who get stung, the consequences of devices becoming infected can have a real impact, says Intel.

While most young students heading to university will have been surrounded by connected devices from a young age, there are still significant gaps in their knowledge when it comes to data security. A majority of children up to 16 years old (75pc) learn information about online safety from their parents but nearly a third of parents (29pc) said they do not look out for information about online safety. However, students are keen to learn more and half of students surveyed (48pc) said they would attend university seminars around online security, if they were on offer.

Nick Viney, VP Consumer, Intel Security, said: “The fact that students are eager to learn about data security is a step in the right direction. Yet its concerning that many are still opening themselves up to risks unknowingly. When it comes to students’ online safety, we all have a responsibility. Not only should parents be educating their children before they fly the nest, but universities too – they should be doing all they can to ensure students understand the security policies at their university.”

He adds: “There are also very simple measures that students can take to keep their work and their data safe. For example, students can make the most of special deals on security software, but make sure the links are legitimate before you click on them! And simple solutions, such as investing in security software like McAfee LiveSafe and not clicking on unknown email links, will help to keep work and personal data safe.”

Top tips from Intel Security:
1. Update your anti-virus software often. Hundreds of viruses are discovered each month, so to make sure that you are protected against the latest breed of threats, make sure you not only have anti-virus software, but update it frequently. That means downloading the latest virus signature files and the most current version of the scanning engine.

2. Back up your files. If a virus infects your files, at least you can replace them with your backup copy. It’s a good idea to store your backup files (on CDs or flash drives) in another secure physical location away from your computer.

3. Click with caution. Offers from sites that seem too good to be true probably are, and can indicate that a site should be viewed with caution. Websites or emails might include phishing links that can lead you to websites that lure you into giving personal information to cyber-criminals or download malware to your computer so be careful what you click on and which attachments you open.

Methodology

In September 2016, Intel Security commissioned The National Student to conduct an online study of 1,000 UK-based students aged 18 to 22.


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