Get Digital Savvy
As a modern student, you’ll spend a significant amount of time interacting with online services and devices that offer immediate connections to the internet. We live in a wonderful, connected digital learning economy, but this presents its challenges – chief among which is cybercrime.
Cybercrime refers to a variety of crimes that are carried out online by hackers who use the internet to gain access to personal data on computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. It also extends to other forms of crime, such as stalking and harassment, sexual grooming, bullying and financial fraud.
Why do people commit cybercrime?
Incidents of cybercrime have rocketed in recent years. Crimes of this kind enable people to hide their identity and location and silently undertake illegal acts – often without the victim knowing.
Cybercriminals are usually highly skilled programmers, who are well organised and capable of putting on fake, believable personas online. Due to the nature of cybercrime (it can be committed by people who live many miles from the victim, and often in different countries), law enforcement and the police sometimes find it difficult to bring offenders to justice.
Common reactions to cybercrime
Victims of cybercrime may feel like they’re facing an invisible attacker. Common feelings are those of anger, fear, or physical sickness.
If you’ve been a victim of cybercrime you might even feel embarrassed or ashamed that you’ve been tricked, but it’s important to remember that you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. You’re not to blame; the cybercriminal is the person who is responsible and none of your actions justify the incident taking place.
Some other common reactions you might experience are:
- feeling afraid to venture outside;
- being less trusting and believing everyone is out to trick you out of your personal details and money;
- a lack of confidence when using the internet;
- the feeling that you might encounter your attacker again either online or in person; and
- feeling as though your personal space has been invaded or your life manipulated by a stranger.
How to protect yourself online
There’s a lot you can do as a student to protect yourself online and significantly lower the chances of being targeted by cyber criminals:
- Use complex passwords that include a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols – a password manager such as Last Pass will help you securely create these for multiple websites
- Turn on two-factor authentication – most smartphones and many websites will provide the option of a two-step password where you enter a normal password and then verify it via text message
- Use the firewalls that come as standard on the devices you own
- Install anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date
- Always update your devices to the latest operating system versions whenever they become available
- Don’t open emails that look suspicious – particularly attachments
- Only share online content with close, trusted friends and family
- If your devices have finger print or face recognition technology – use it
- Only shop online on websites that are well known
- Look for the padlock symbol on websites, and if it doesn’t exist or you’re warned about a connection being insecure – press the ‘back’ button
How to report cybercrime
If you think you’ve been a victim of cybercrime, contact Action Fraud.
If you think your personal safety is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999 (non-emergencies: 101).
Who else can I talk to?
Voice has a team of highly trained counsellors who can offer free, confidential advice to men and women who have experienced cybercrime, no matter where or when it took place. Contact us today if you want to talk.