Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3 Securing my digital information

What issues arise in doing everyday activities online? As we’ve already discussed, most of us rely on the internet for everyday tasks such as shopping, working, banking or social networking. We often do this without stopping to think about the security issues that might be involved.

Activity 4 Securing your information

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Choose one of the following activities and think about the main security issues that might threaten your chosen activity.

  • Online banking – for example, to check the balance in your account or make a payment.
  • Online shopping – think particularly about buying something from a new store that you don’t recognise and haven’t shopped from before.
  • Social networking – think about whether you would add someone as a ‘friend’ if you hadn’t met them in person.
  • Working from home – consider the need to transfer documents that contain confidential information between members of your team.


The following case study provides an example for the fourth option above, working from home.

Case study: working from home

When working from home you may need to share a confidential file with a colleague in another location. You could email it to them, but this is not a secure method of transmitting information – email is easily intercepted en route to its destination and there is always the risk that you send it to the wrong person!

You could use an online cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to store the file, but you will have to make sure that your colleague can access the uploaded file. You might also be worried about the security of the cloud services against hackers.

You could put the file on a USB flash memory drive and post it to your colleague. But the drive could be lost, stolen or intercepted by an attacker who adds malware to the drive as a way of infecting your organisation’s computers.

Or, you could use encryption to lock the file against intruders. You could email the encrypted file safe in the knowledge that no one else could read the document. However, you would have to be sure that your colleague knows how to use encryption software so that they can decrypt the document when it arrives.

Questions to consider

Remember that earlier this week we classified security issues under three headings. We want our information to:

  • be read by only the right people (confidentiality)
  • only be changed by authorised people or processes (integrity)
  • be available to read and use whenever we want (availability).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371