Experts from Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science are running a free, online course to ensure everyone is cyber crime savvy.
The school is an acknowledged Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research and has created a course which is open to both academics and anyone interested in cyber security.
Ahead of the course – which begins on 20 March – here’s their top tips for protecting yourself on line, from Dr Steve Riddle from Newcastle University.
- Make sure your passwords aren’t easy to guess. Hackers can use a “brute force” dictionary attack to crack short passwords in seconds so avoid your birthday, your names, proper words (even with replacements such as “5” in place of “s”) and sequences like ABC or 123. Longer passwords made up of several words are both easier to remember, and harder to break.
- Try and use a different email address which you can reserve exclusively for online shopping. This means that if you are compromised, you can minimise the damage.
- Never click on a link in an email, even if it seems to come from someone you know. Criminals are now getting cleverer and are spear phishing – using personal information to send individual targeted emails rather than “spamming” large numbers of people.
- Have one bank account which you can use exclusively for online shopping. This means that if cyber thieves do get through your security, they can only access a relatively small amount of money.
- Don’t use the same password for more than one account for the same reasons as in 1) above. If it’s easy to guess plus if you use the same one over and over again, it can be disastrous if you are the victim of a cyber attack.
- Never put your whole wallet on a contactless reader on a bus or train – there’s a chance it can read all of your credit and debit cards and you could end up paying more than you bargained for.
- Change your privacy settings on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter so that only people you know can find out information about you.
- Use an online wallet such as PayPay or Google Wallet to pay for items on line, which means your credit card details won’t be sent to online retailers.
- Check out new online retailers before you make a purchase for the first time. A quick search will highlight if anyone else has had a problem.
- Be careful about accepting cookies on websites to prevent being tracked as you explore the internet.
Newcastle University’s three week online Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, In Life begins on 20 March and is free. Anyone interested can sign up at futurelearn.com/courses/cyber-security.