Now that we're all working and socialising so much more online, it’s important to take care and check your online safety and mental wellbeing.
Take regular breaks and exercise when you can to avoid the physical issues of increased online activity (e.g. eyestrain, or poor posture). It is easy to feel isolated, particularly during lockdown if you're without your normal support network, but there is lots of support available if you need it. The BU Student Health and Wellbeing pages have useful contacts and information. You can also find some helpful activities on our coronavirus wellbeing support pages. Keep an eye out for flatmates, friends and family members in case you spot any signs that they need support too.
With increased online activity there are always those who are willing to take advantage. To improve your online safety our IT Security team have some top tips to help you keep your personal information and BU systems, safe:
Use silly passwords
It can be annoying remembering lots of passwords, but using different passwords for your BU email, your bank, your personal email, online shopping and so on, means there’s less to update if any of your accounts are ever compromised.
Our advice is to use three-word passwords with a combination of letters, symbols and numbers – and to make them about something random such as ‘5CheeseParis.Bentley’ not ‘Summer2018’.
Most mobile devices now have wallets and secure folders where you can save a list of all your passwords – just make sure you password protect that too!
Filter on social
It’s so easy to accidentally share a lot about yourself on social media that can be used by the wrong people. There are two things you can do to help protect your social media accounts right now:
- Remove your birthday, middle names and address information from your bio - this will help stop people posing as you and contacting your family and friends..
- Check your privacy settings – this should be really easy to do in popular social media apps. You won’t be able to stop people seeing your profile and news feed if you join public groups like selling pages though, so decide if you’re comfortable with that.
We'd also suggest you take a minute to use filters to use stickers or blur out personal information in photos… Was your student number on the happy picture you’ve shared of your student ID card? Is your address on that cute letter from your family back home? Could someone work out your address from your photos and screen shots of from your running or exercise app?
Think before you click
During term time we often see phishing emails posing as security checks from banks and Student Finance England and other student loan companies. Clicking on unknown attachments or links could see you sharing personal information with scammers, and result in slow system performance, viruses and malware that compromise your personal computers and the BU network.
The best thing to do is contact the organisation directly to check if the email was sent from them. Always take a moment before making a decision to respond, and consider if you feel you’re being made to feel curious, scared or sympathetic. Check for poor spelling and grammar as this is often a sign that fraudsters are at work, and ask friends or family for their thoughts on whether the information is legitimate.
If you do receive an email to your BU account you believe to be a scam, you can attach the email (don’t forward it!) to ‘Unwanted Mail’ in Outlook, or call IT Service Desk on 01202 965515, option 1.
Keep your personal devices, personal
It’s really easy to add a pass code, or even a thumb print, face or retina scanning, to mobile devices now. It’s also a good idea to set up a timer on your auto-lock function in case you get distracted and don’t close your device properly. It’ll save you from accidentally calling friends and family and leaving random voicemails!
And please don’t leave devices unattended and unlocked on campus or in public, even if just for a few minutes.
Back-up your work
Make sure you always back-up your work to a USB stick, a cloud, or an external hard drive. And please, always add password protection to those devices. Taking these extra steps could save your 5,000 word assignment getting corrupted by a virus, ten minutes before the submission deadline.
For more information about staying safe online visit www.getsafeonline.org and our IT safety online pages – you can also contact the IT Service Desk on 01202 965515 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.