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Most students say cyber security is a growing threat

Some 70% of higher education students say they are aware that cyber crime and attacks are a threat, but less than half think security is their responsibility

Students in higher and further education are aware of the importance of cyber security, with 77% recognising it as a growing threat.

But only 35% think it is their responsibility to learn about cyber security, and fewer than 20% say they are concerned about it.

Research by digital education services firm Jisc found that media exposure of cyber attacks on large companies is raising awareness of cyber security among undergraduates and others in higher education.

Tim Kidd, executive director of Jisc Technologies, said: “It is no surprise that so many students view cyber security as a growing threat. Recently, there has been daily media coverage about attacks on businesses, and more than 15% of the students we asked had had their personal email accounts hacked.”

According to the research, 90% of students are more interested in their grades than cyber security. Kidd said the increased pressure on young people could be to blame for their lack of responsibility for learning about cyber security. 

Many use the term “digital native” to describe children who have grown up using technology, but this phrase assumes youngsters are also learning how to use technology safely and appropriately. However, this is not always the case, said Kidd.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The survey showed students have a good understanding of securing their devices, with 76% claiming they know how to secure their personal devices. Only 35% said they did not know what security was available on university computers.

The research also found that most students claim to know how to protect themselves from personal attacks online, with 65% saying they know how to protect themselves from hackers who try to access personal data through methods such as phishing.

Read more about cyber security

  • More than 12 million British people have experienced cyber crime in the past year, this UK summary of the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report reveals.
  • The systems that control heating, lighting and security in most buildings are vulnerable to cyber attack.

Steve Kennett, head of operational services at Jisc, said: “Only 24% of students think their university network is more secure than their home network. But 16% have had their personal details hacked online, whereas only 4% have ever had their college or university emails hacked.

“This may demonstrate that more needs to be done to educate students about the security of their network and how they can help reduce cyber security threats at their institution.”

The UK government is working on improving cyber security investment over the next five years to address cyber threats and the cyber security skills gap.

Read more on Security policy and user awareness

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