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Students risk data security

Intel Security reveals that students continue to risk their data security but are eager to learn more about staying safe online

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | September 20, 2016 | Higher education

A record number of students (424,000) are leaving the nest for their first taste of university life this September; fully loaded with phones, tablets and laptops for all their studying and Netflix needs. 

Despite a quarter of teenagers reporting that they are “almost constantly” online, only half of students (50%) ensure they have the necessary security software installed to keep their devices and data safe, according to research from Intel Security.

Security breaches and viruses are growing in prevalence and the recent McAfee Labs Quarterly Threat Report revealed that levels of mobile malware have hit a record high, growing 150% year on year. With Intel Security’s latest research showing that more than 90% 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. 

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. The majority of children up to 16 years old (75%) learn information about online safety from their parents but nearly a third of parents (29%) said they do not look out for information about online safety. However, students are keen to learn more and half of students surveyed (48%) said they would attend university seminars around online security, if they were on offer. 

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

Nick Viney, VP Consumer, Intel Security, commented: “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 cybercriminals or download malware to your computer so be careful what you click on and which attachments you open. 

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