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SURF develops e-modules on internet dangers for students and staff

How do you make students and staff aware of online risks?

“Institutions in the Netherlands were looking for a way to achieve a basic level of knowledge among students and staff, and to significantly raise awareness,” says Albert Hankel, Product Manager Security & Privacy at SURF. “That’s why we developed two sets of e-modules, called the security and privacy license, for students and employees on how to deal safely with security and privacy.”

Words: Marieke Linn, SURF. This article was also published in SURFmagazine – SURF’s corporate magazine

Awareness essential

“More and more institutions are realising that awareness among staff and students plays an important role in cyber security,” says Hankel. “In addition to having technology and policy in order, people must have knowledge of online risks. That way, they can support a safe online environment.”

Albert Hankel, SURF
Albert Hankel, SURF

Part of curriculum

The idea of a digital certificate, the e-modules, was born at the end of 2018 at a conference on cyber security. Hankel: “Institutions expressed the need to educate (new) students and staff on keeping themselves and their organisation cyber secure. They wanted to be able to test this and to give cyber security more weight”. For example, by making the lessons part of the curriculum via the learning management system and letting students receive one study credit for following the e-module. Or institutions can stipulate that employees must obtain this certificate before they are allowed to start work. Hankel: “It’s possible, but it doesn’t have to be. Institutions can make it as important as they want.”

Films and multiple choice

The e-modules contain topics that students or employees encounter in the field of security and privacy at their institution. For example, a movie about phishing: a student receives an e-mail that seems to come from his institution, asking him to update his password with a handy link directly in the mail, so he can easily change the password. The message is that they should not just click on a link, even if the e-mail seems to come from a reliable sender. The e-modules consist of theory and practical examples in the form of text, image, film and multiple-choice questions.

Next step: in-depth modules

The ambition is also to develop in-depth modules. “Think of extra modules specifically for HR or for students working on their graduation research”, Hankel explains. “We are also looking at additional working methods so that lecturers can integrate (parts of) the e-modules into their lessons, such as a workshop or work lecture.”

Available free of charge

The e-modules can be downloaded free of charge, in Dutch and in English, as part of Cybersave Yourself, the SURF campaign through which institutions increase staff and student awareness of security and privacy. Cybersave Yourself consists of a website and an online toolkit with ready-made materials that institutions can use, such as various means of communications and a game.

More information

Cybersave Yourself e-modules:

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