Shutterstock image, close up of hand using a touch screen to access data

Protecting your data is just as important as protecting yourself, whether it is research data that costs millions of pounds to gather, the only copy of a cherished photograph or an almost finished final year project or dissertation, all information has value. 

There are three pillars of information security.

  • Confidentiality - preventing the unauthorised disclosure of information.
  • Integrity - preventing information tampering.
  • Availability - information can be accessed when required.

Finding the right balance for securing your data will depend on the nature of the information and it's sensitivity. The majority of information security is common sense, such as:

Backup your files

Having a backup of your files allows you to recover your data should the worst happen. Backups can either use cloud based storage (e.g. using OneDrive for Business), or an external device such as a USB hard drive that can be disconnected from a computer and stored separately. However you decide to do your backups, you should regularly check you can get the information back as expected.

Anti-malware software

Malware is malicious software that deliberately reduces the three pillars of information security. Anti-malware software protects you from this by continuously monitoring your computer and stopping malware from running. The University recommends using a reputable anti-malware provider and ensuring that the product is kept up to date and turned on.

Encrypting your devices

Encryption is the process of converting the data on your device from readable, to unreadable until a special key is provided that only you should know. Performing some form of encryption on your device, whether it be full-disk, partition or file encryption, is a extremely effective way in keeping your data secure on your device.

The University have provided guidelines on how to encrypt the hard drives on personal devices. For Windows devices, there are guidelines for both Windows 7 and Windows 10. A guide is also available for Mac OSX devices.

Keeping software up to date

It is important to keep all software up to date as companies release new patches to their software to counter new threats as they emerge. This includes operating systems, applications, and anti-malware software that are updated on a regular basis. One of the most important applications to keep up to date is your internet browser, as this is your primary gateway to the internet. If your browser runs any plugins (e.g. adblockers, Java), these should be maintained in the same way.

General awareness

Whilst technology can help protect your data, the number one factor is your own security awareness. Keeping yourself informed of the latest security threats is essential to help guide secure behaviour, please see below to improve your cyber awareness. 

Some general advice to get started is follow your gut instinct; if something doesn’t look right, seems too good to be true or doesn’t feel right, stay away, Think before you click! and if you're not sure, ask.

Got infected?

In the unfortunate case your computer still becomes infected with malware, head over to our ‘Recover from infection‘ page for more information.