Online safety and security


Your online safety is extremely important to us. While technology undoubtedly brings so many benefits, there are risks that we all need to be aware of as well.

Keeping users safe online

Our policies for colleagues, students and apprentices include specific conditions for the use of corporate and personal websites, social media and any other personal web presence. These policies include the IT security policy, rules for the use of IT facilities and disciplinary procedures.

Top 10 online safety tips

Below, you'll find 10 top tips for online safety. Some of these you may already be doing, and some you may not have considered before. By implementing these simple steps, you really will help make a difference to your online security.

  1. While it may be easier for you to remember, having the same password across many accounts poses a huge online security risk. There are often stories about cyber-criminals stealing passwords from hacked websites. If you are reusing the same password across many sites you’re making it much easier for hackers to access your other accounts. And, your personal data is at risk.

    There are often so many usernames and passwords to remember. Using a password vault is a great way to keep your passwords safe and secure. 

  2. It can be easy to accidentally send an email to the wrong person, so you need to be careful. Especially with confidential emails. It’s important to double-check who is in the email before sending, to avoid any embarrassment. And, more seriously, any GDPR breaches. 

  3. Its particularly important to make sure any software you use is up to date and can receive important security updates. This will keep the devices you use secure.

  4. Backing up your data means you will be able to restore your device quickly and easily in the event of data loss. For example if your system crashes or your hard drive fails. UCLan’s OneDrive and SharePoint are where you should store your University information. There are similar services available for your personal files, photos and the other data you keep on your phone or laptop. This includes Apple iCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive Personal

  5. It’s worth considering that the more personal information you post online, the easier it is for a hacker to steal your identity and data. If you haven’t already, it’s worth checking the privacy settings on your social media pages. Ensure that you’re only sharing with the people you want – making sure your profile is set to private is a good start.

  6. Using family names, dates of birth or the generic ‘password’ or ‘123456’ passwords makes it easy for hackers to access your data. Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols, as this makes your password much harder to guess.

  7. At UCLan we use multi-factor authentication (MFA). This provides a second layer of security to any type of login. You need extra information or a physical device to log in, as well as your password. This significantly minimises what hackers can do with stolen credentials.

    With MFA, even if a criminal manages to get your password, it is useless unless they also have access to your mobile phone or security token.  If you haven’t already, you can also set up multi-factor authentication for most of your personal accounts and devices. There’s loads of advice online about how to do this.

  8. Some public Wi-Fi networks will have minimal security. People connected to the same Wi-Fi network as you may use simple hacking tools to view unencrypted network activity. Many systems will encrypt information you use when online. But, you should still avoid connecting to open guest or public Wi-Fi hotspots where possible.

    You could also consider connecting via your mobile hotspot, rather than through the public Wi-Fi. Or using a private VPN service.

  9. Always make sure your laptop or computer has anti-virus software installed from a known and trusted source. It should also include anti-malware protection. Most modern anti-virus programs will automatically update. It’s essential you allow this to happen so that both you and your device stay protected from new threats and software nasties. There are free and paid-for options for home users, including Windows Defender, Sophos, AVG and Intego. 

Current student or apprentice with online safety concerns?

Contact our IT support by visiting the helpdesk on the ground floor of the Preston Campus Library (8.00am - 6.00pm Monday to Thursday, 8.00am - 5.00pm on Friday)