Cyber Safety & the Festive Season

The holiday season is fast approaching. While we're beginning to wind down, cyber criminals are gearing up to take advantage of the huge increase in online shopping, social media activity and seasonal travel - not forgetting our more relaxed mindset! Here are our top tips on staying safe online.

Phishing and Social Engineering

  • Beware of phishing emails or SMS messages purporting to be from parcel shipping business like Amazon, DHL and DPD. These usually contain links to either fake websites that aim to harvest your credentials or personal information, or to make a payment for supposed additional charges relating to your delivery. If you’re unsure, don’t click on the links! If you are expecting a parcel, login to the provider’s website directly and check your delivery status there.
  • Even if you do everything right, a compromise may be outside your control. But by using a strong and unique password for every account, you can prevent hackers doing further damage.

For further guidance, see our previous news bulletins on Phishing, Social Engineering, Malware, and Passwords.

If the worst happens, you can also limit the impact of a data breach.

Holiday Travel

Many of us will be travelling to see family and friends during the holidays.

Before finishing work, either at home or on campus, please ensure:

  • You take the time to secure information by placing any paper records in a secure place together with any University devices.
  • University devices are locked, and access is not given to family or friends.
  • Any paper records at home are placed in a secure place and are not visible to any visiting family or friends.
  • If you do have a business need to travel with your University device or records, please ensure that you take care to always secure your device/records and that the contents are not visible to other individuals.

More guidance on your responsibilities can be found in the Hybrid Working Guidance.

Physical Security

If you are travelling, don’t forget to consider physical security:

  • If your office or home will be empty over the holiday period, make sure doors and windows are locked.
  • Use alarms and CCTV where possible.

Socialising Remotely

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us will be accustomed to using video chat tools such as Zoom to keep in touch with loved ones. You may still be using them to keep in touch with family and friends who cannot be with you in the holidays.

  • Make sure you know how to secure your Zoom party and avoid any unwanted Zoom Bombers using our Zoom Guidance.

Devices

Many of us will receive a new device as a Christmas gift.

  • Take time to double check all available security settings to make sure it is as protected as it can be.
  • Ensure parental controls are in place on devices belonging to children or younger relatives.
  • And don’t forget to take care when disposing of old devices. If reselling, seek expert help for wiping data first.

For further guidance, see our previous news bulletins on Personal Devices and Remote Working and Physical Security.

Protect Yourself and Others Online

Make sure you’re using those new devices responsibly.

  • Be mindful of oversharing in online games and social media; you may give away enough information for an attacker to steal your identity.
  • Never share your travel plans publicly online.
  • Be aware of your digital footprint. What you say and do online will likely be recorded by service providers and/or other members of the online community.
  • Finally, be watchful of vulnerable users who may be potential victims of cyberbullying and harassment. Make the most of account privacy settings and report any issues you see.

For further guidance, see our previous news bulletins on Social Media, Digital Footprint, and Cyberbullying and Harassment.

Author: IT Security Team, Digital and Information Services

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