Online course saves student from Cyber attack

A North East student was saved from a cyber-attack, thanks to the information he learned on a free online course.

Twenty-two-year-old Michael Hicks participated in the three week course, run by Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science when the first version was launched in September.

He believes the knowledge he gained, stopped him becoming a victim of unscrupulous cyber criminals who contacted him via auction site, Ebay.

“I had a phone which I decided to sell via Ebay,” said Michael.

“I was going to sell it for around £350 but then I was contacted by someone directly who said they would give me £500 if I took it off the auction and they would buy it straight away.

“It seemed too good an opportunity to miss and they then sent me what looked like an email from PayPal so they could transfer the money into my account.

“I remembered what I’d been taught on the course and I realised that this was a phishing email and that it would have given them access to my bank account.

“It was very clever and it really looked like the real thing but thanks to the course it really made me more aware of what to look out for and I believe saved my bank account being accessed.”

The Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, In Life course is part of Newcastle’s University’s series of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which allow thousands of people free access to learn about a range of subjects.

The course is open to anyone and offers the opportunity to learn about the benefits and risks of online interactions, to understand the choices that must be made to help stay safe online.

Michael, who is now studying on a master’s computer science conversion course at Newcastle University, believes that the online sessions provide invaluable information to everyone.

“It’s not only useful to anyone then wanting to go on to study computer science, it’s vital to anyone who shops online,” he said.

The free, three week online course which signed up 14,000 students in September began again on 20 March, and explores the latest research into cyber security, along with giving practical advice on issues such as privacy online, payment safety and security at home.

It will also give a flavour of the work being done by Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science to anyone who might be interested in going on to the MSc in Computer Security and Resilience course, which has an international reputation for excellence or even changing careers and studying the MSc Computer Science conversion course.

Anyone wanting to participate in the course can sign up for free at