Dear colleague,

Between September 2022 and August 2023, the National Cyber Security Centre received 297 reports of ransomware. Of those, 50 came from academia – far ahead of other sectors.

We work with a huge range of important information covering everything from sensitive research data to individuals’ financial details. Cyber attacks are a constant and dynamic threat to organisations, and this range of information puts us firmly in the crosshairs.

You will have heard that several HEIs have already been under sustained and damaging cyber attacks including University of Manchester, Newcastle University and recently University of Wolverhampton.

Unfortunately, as individuals we are the biggest risk. The successes of attacks such as phishing or impersonation far exceed those of viruses or other malware. This is often due to rushing or carelessness which leads to a compromise. If you are not alert to the threat, you could enable attacks that cripple our operations, lock or delete your work and disrupt activities from teaching to research to payroll.

As individuals, we are therefore all at the front line of our defences and there are straightforward, well-established steps we can all take to improve our cyber security.

To help equip you, we have created a short series of bite-size training packages on the MetaCompliance platform covering key topics including phishing, passwords, social media safety, secure remote and mobile working, and ‘clear desk, locked screen’. They should all take fewer than 10 minutes of your time and, given the potential consequences of a cyber attack, I would ask everyone to complete them.

You will receive an email from with the subject line starting “Cyber spotlight series” and the course title. Please log in with your university username and password to access the course.

The Cyber Security team is also here to support you, so please do reach out if you have any questions or feedback by emailing If you see suspicious activity or suspect a cyber attack, email

We hope that you find these courses of benefit to you at work and in your personal life.

Thank you for taking part.

Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr Chief Operating Officer