From education to employment

Kirklees College fights cyber threats with qualifications for staff and students

In today’s world where technology plays a major role in our daily lives, cyber security is more important than ever. 

This is especially true for colleges and training providers, which often store large amounts of sensitive information and are regularly targeted by cyber criminals. 

Research from the DfE highlighted that 88 per cent of UK’s colleges had identified breaches or attacks in the last 12 months of 2022.

To combat this growing threat, Kirklees College in West Yorkshire has invested in cybersecurity education and awareness for both staff and students.

As Head of Adult Education at the college, Sharon Archer has seen first-hand the importance of investing in cyber security education.

Investing in Cyber Security Education:

As educators, it is our duty to prioritise the safety and security of our students and staff and investing in cyber security education is a crucial step for us in achieving this goal. 

The college invests heavily in the latest technology to combat cyber security but the biggest threat within any organisation is its staff.  

Cyber criminals use social engineering to convince people to open attachments or click on links and no matter what technology you put in place users can still fall victim, so we needed to address this and significantly reduce the chance of falling victim to a breach.

We decided to offer cyber security CPD to all staff and a qualification to our adult students at Kirklees College and started the roll out in June 2022.

We chose Gateway Qualifications because their cyber security qualification was fully resourced, which is so important when you are time poor and, when cyber security might not be your specialist subject.

Cyber security is not just a concern for the IT department, but for everyone within the college. From our 16–18-year-old students who spend a significant amount of time online, to our adult students who may be less tech-savvy, we felt it was essential to educate and prepare them for the potential risks they may face.

Positive Feedback from Staff and Students:

The feedback from both staff and students has been overwhelmingly positive, as they have been able to implement their new knowledge in both their personal and professional lives, such as recognising bank fraud and spotting suspicious email addresses.

Recently we worked closely with Ofsted inspectors in a consultancy capacity, they were very interested in our cyber security practices, they were reflective, and they highly praised our efforts in the area. 

Advice to Other Colleges:

By implementing a cyber security qualification for both staff and students, colleges and training providers can equip their community with the necessary skills and knowledge to stay safe online. 

The free resources offered by Gateway Qualifications make it accessible for colleges to deliver this training, and the positive impact it has on individuals’ personal and professional lives is a testament to its importance.

Sharon’s top risks to look out for in terms of cyber security:

·Phishing scams: Be vigilant for emails or messages that ask for personal information, such as login details or passwords.

·Unsecured Wi-Fi networks: Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive activities, as they can be easily hacked.

·Unsecured devices: Ensure all devices, such as laptops and smartphones, are password protected, have up-to-date anti-virus software and have the latest software updates and patches installed.

·Malware: Be aware of any suspicious attachments or downloads, as they may contain malware.

·Unsecured websites: Ensure all websites accessed are secure, indicated by a padlock symbol in the address bar.

·Social engineering: Be wary of unsolicited phone calls or messages, as scammers may use psychological tactics to trick you into divulging personal information.

·Cloud storage: Use secure, encrypted cloud storage services for sensitive data.

By Sharon Archer, Head of Adult Education at Kirklees College

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