Stay safe online

In this article:

- Dealing with suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages
- Use separate, strong passwords
- Protect and update your devices
- Backup your data
- Use social media safely
- More useful advice from the web

Dealing with suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages

Spotting suspicious messages

Some scams can be hard to spot, but there are some common signs to look out for and things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Does the message use your full name? Scam messages typically use greetings like “Dear Customer” as they do not have your personal details. However more sophisticated scams may use your real name.
  2. Does the message contain an urgent warning? Messages like “If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed” convey a sense of urgency so that you’ll respond immediately without thinking.
  3. Is the message poorly written? Genuine emails are unlikely to contain grammar and spelling mistakes.
  4. Are you being asked to confirm personal details? Legitimate organisations will never ask you for your password.
  5. Are you being asked to pay your fees a different way? Always be aware of messages and adverts that advise you to pay your tuition fees via third-party services, even if it appears to be an attractive saving. Tuition fees should always be paid directly to the University. Find out more about how to pay your fees.
  6. Does the message ask you to click a link? It’s likely you’ll be taken to a fake website to sign in or confirm your details or get you to download a virus. Always hover your mouse over the link to reveal the actual web address. If it looks suspicious, don’t click it.
  7. Does the message contain an attachment? Do not open attachments from people you don't know or if you're not expecting them - not even if it seems to be from your bank, the government, or a reputable company. Attachments may contain viruses that infect your computer.

Make yourself a harder target

  • Review your privacy settings for your social media and other online accounts.
  • Think about what you post (and who can see it).
  • Never share the numbers printed on your bank card - these numbers can be used to make purchases, even if your bank card is not present at the time.
  • Never give out personal details to someone you don't know.
  • Beware of phone calls from numbers you don't recognise, even if they're from your home country.
  • Avoid anyone who asks you to pay for a service in cash and never meet anyone you don’t know to hand over cash.

Reporting suspicious messages

If you receive a suspicious email, stay calm. Don’t reply or click any links. Report the suspicious email and then delete it.

If you receive any messages or phone calls that you suspect to be fraudulent, report them to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via the Action Fraud website.

Use separate, strong passwords

  • Create a separate password for your personal email account and for the accounts you care most about.
  • Create a strong password using three random words. The longer and more unusual your password is, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to hack.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication when it’s available. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a free security feature that gives you an extra layer of protection online and stops cyber criminals getting into your accounts - even if they have your password.
  • Use a password manager if you need to. Remembering lots of passwords can be difficult, but if you save them in a password manager then you don’t have to.

Protect and update your devices

  • Password protect your devices and use a screen lock – PIN number, fingerprint or lock pattern.
  • Update your devices regularly. Using the latest versions of software, apps and operating system on your phone, tablet, or smart device can immediately improve your security.
  • Be cautious when connecting to hotspots or unsecure wifi networks that don’t ask you for a password.
  • If you have a laptop and you bring it on to campus, make sure you look after it. Do not leave it unattended or lying around.
  • Watch out for pop-ups asking you to install something. Use a popup blocker if you can.

Backup your data

If your phone, tablet or laptop is hacked, your sensitive personal data could be lost, damaged or stolen.

Make sure you keep a copy of all your important information by backing it up.

You can choose to back up all your data or only information that is important to you. See how to turn on backup for:

Use social media sensibly

Your digital footprint can follow you for years, so think before you post online and on social media.

Review your privacy controls regularly so you know who can see what.

Be wary about connecting with people you don’t know. Unless you’re sure they are who they claim to be, don’t send any confidential or personal information as you could be falling for a scam.

Be mindful of what you post on social media. What may seem like a bit of fun at the time could be viewed as offensive by others.

The University takes all allegations of harassment very seriously. If you think you might be the victim of online abuse, please contact Student Support.

More useful advice from the web

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