Seven steps to help protect yourself online

Cyber-criminals can compromise your computer and/or your accounts and use them to access and steal information. Keeping our IT infrastructure secure requires everyone to play their part. The Information Security team are available to support us when issues arise but until then we must all do what we can to stay safe online - security is only as strong as its weakest link. Follow these seven steps to protect your account(s) and the University’s IT systems.

1. Use strong passwords

Cascading code with a generic login box

Passwords are the first line of defence. Ensure that you protect yourself by creating strong passwords which are unique. Never share your password with anyone!

2. Don’t open mail from strangers

Most of the time people don’t fall for phishing emails, but it only takes a handful of successful attacks to have a significant impact.

You do not always need to download the attachment for the damage to be done, sometimes just opening the email is enough. That’s because ‘drive-by downloads’ can install malware without you even agreeing to download them.

3. Use two-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security enhancement that allows you to present two pieces of evidence when logging in to an account. Whenever two-factor authentication is available, go for it. It may take you a couple of extra seconds to log-in to your accounts, but it can make it less likely that 'mal-actors' will be able to log into your accounts too.

Read the latest about MFA at Oxford.

4. Make sure your devices are up to date

Ensure that your devices are up to date, so they can benefit from critical fixes and security updates when they become available.

5. Back up your data regularly

If you ever fall victim to a ransomware attack, you might not be able to get your data back unless you have backed it up. So ensure that your data is backed up regularly.

6. Avoid sharing personal information

IT training on a mobile device

Sometimes it is a little too easy to share too much personal information online. You would be surprised at how much damage cyber-criminals can do with a small amount of your personal information. Be careful when sharing details such as your full name, financial information, and home address online.

7. Guide family and friends

Share your cyber-safe knowledge with family and friends to ensure that they also keep everything secure -  your efforts alone might not be enough and we are stronger together.