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Only 17 per cent of UK students show cyber security concerns

Students aren’t concerned about cyber security despite 77 per cent seeing it as a growing threat. Only 17 per cent of students are genuinely concerned by cyber security despite it affecting many of them, finds a new survey by Jisc, the digital services and solutions organisation for UK education and research.

Students are unsurprisingly more worried about grades (90 per cent), but are also more often worried about money (79 per cent) or friendships (53 per cent).

The findings come as the Government is set to address the growing threat of cyber-attacks by doubling investment in cyber security for 2016, spending £1.9 billion over five years. The national cyber plan includes the development of a National Offensive Cyber Programme to counter cyber-attacks, and perhaps most critically, the goal of increasing the nation’s cyber skills.

Tim Kidd, executive director of Jisc technologies, said: “It’s no surprise that so many students view cyber security as a growing threat, recently there has been daily media coverage about new attacks on businesses, and over 15 per cent of the students we asked have already had their personal e-mail accounts hacked.

“Students have many demands on their time and have grown up in a digital world, and have a low level of concern about cyber security. This may be as students feel they understand the security in place on their devices, 65 per cent of the 406 students asked said they know how to protect themselves online from security threats, such as hacker’s phishing for their personal data.”

The survey also found that 35 per cent of students see it as their own responsibility to learn about cyber security. Tim continues: “In a world that is becoming more digital by the day it is undeniable that students and education professionals may need to learn more about cyber security. There is no clear responsibility for the education of students in this area, but universities may find this becomes a focus for them in the future.”

Further results showed that 35 per cent of students don’t know what security is available on their university/college computer, compared to 76 per cent who are aware of the security on their own devices. Steve Kennett, head of operational services for Jisc, including the CSIRT (Computer Security and Incident Response Team) comments: “We provide security services and access to the global Internet, through our private Janet network, to UK universities and colleges. We monitor and resolve security incidents to protect users and make sure students have 24/7 access to resources. We also work closely with IT teams in education, but all this all goes on behind the scenes so it is no surprise that students aren’t fully aware of how secure their university or college network is, often more secure than a home broadband connection.

“Only 24 per cent of students actually think their university network is more secure than their home network, but 16 per cent had had their personal details hacked online, whereas only 4 per cent had ever had their college or university emails hacked. This may demonstrate that more needs to be done to education students about the security of their network and on how they can help reduce cyber security threats at their institution.”

The subject of cyber security in education will be discussed and addressed by experts at Jisc’s network and technology conference, Networkshop, on the 22-24 March 2016 at the University of Manchester.

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