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Are you a cyber security warrior or sleepwalker?

4 October 2017

Australians love using the internet for shopping, banking, emailing and staying in touch with family and friends. This means we’re often giving out personal and financial information online, but how careful are you when it comes to cyber security? 

Are you someone who knows it’s important to protect yourself online but are not quite sure about the best ways to do it? Do you rely on someone else in your family to do the occasional back-up? Do you use passphrases at work but not for personal devices because you don’t think you have anything hackers would be interested in?

In short, do you find cyber security just too hard?  

If you meet this description and are more reactive when it comes to cyber security, the good news is there are simple basic steps you can take to protect yourself online; improving your digital security is easy. 

Maybe you’re a digital convert and love keeping in touch with family and friends on social media, and are pretty adept at protecting yourself online across all your devices? Maybe you’re the person family members turn to in a cyber crisis or for any technology related issue?

If you are more proactive be careful not to get too complacent. Cyber criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to scam money and skim personal details and there’s probably more you could be doing to protect yourself, your friends and your family.

Tips to protect yourself online

Passphrases

  • Make sure you use strong, hard-to-guess passphrases on your desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones—and make them different.
  • Don’t arbitrarily mix letters, numbers and symbols to make a password. Instead, create passwords that are more memorable.
  • Don’t use your street address or numeric sequences such as 1234567.

Protect your stuff

  • Secure your computer by installing adequate firewalls, keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date, as well as your operating software.
  • Secure your mobile or tablet by setting a password or pin to unlock the device; make sure they are different. Install reputable security software that includes anti-virus and anti theft/loss protection—your device’s retailer or service provider can provide recommendations.
  • Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new application and operating system updates as soon as they are available.
  • When you get rid of a computer, make sure you have removed all your personal data and try to clean the hard drive.

Be cautious with emails

  • Be suspicious of emails from people you don’t know or that look unusual—it may be spam email with malicious software attached.
  • Don’t share your email address online unless you need to and consider setting up a separate email address just to use for online forms or shopping.
  • As much as possible, have separate email accounts for personal and business use.
  • Use a spam* filter to catch these messages before they get to your inbox. (Most modern email systems have reasonably effective spam filters to prevent spam appearing in your inbox. If you’re not sure, ask your internet service provider.)
  • Delete spam messages without opening them and never reply to them. Even if the threat isn’t real, replying confirms to the sender that your email address is legitimate, and it will increase the amount of spam you receive.
  • Do not open any attachments if the source of the message is unknown or suspicious—do not enable macros on documents from an untrustworthy sender.

* Spam messages are electronic messages you haven’t asked for that are sent to your email account, mobile phone number, or instant messaging account.

Wifi

  • Protect your wireless connection with a strong password.
  • Make sure remote management on your modem or router is disabled. 
  • If you are using public wifi, make sure your computer has its firewall enabled before connecting and that all your software is up-to-date and you have a good anti-virus program installed.
  • Don’t use public wifi for sending sensitive emails, accessing your online banking or using your credit card while connected (and make sure your apps with this information are closed).

More information

Find out more about protecting yourself online.