Cyber criminals are on the move – here’s how to keep your family safe

More and more families are living on the web. Its helping them stay connected as they work, shop, bank and access health information from multiple family devices at home and on the move.

…But cyber criminals are also on the move.

Since July the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has received more than 13,500 reports of cybercrime with identity theft and online fraud the most common.

Cyber criminals most commonly target Australian families through phishing attacks: where criminals try and trick people into clicking links in messages claiming to be from their bank or by asking them to fill out online banking forms. They also use email, to gain access to your devices to install malware and look for known vulnerabilities in software or operating systems.

Families can take seven proactive steps to better protect themselves and their data.

  1. Education:

Out of all the layers of cyber protection, humans are the most vulnerable. People, particularly children, are inherently trustworthy. Cyber criminals know this and exploit our innate decency – so educate your children about what suspicious activity looks like.

Just as you would with a family fire escape plan consider developing family rules about what to share and who is ok to talk to online. Understand a bank or government department would never email requesting personal details. Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to gain your trust and your data so check the Australian Cyber Security Centre for known threats.

  1. Patching:

PATCH, PATCH, PATCH and patch again. Businesses with good cybersecurity practices constantly update their operating systems and applications. You should too. Turn on auto updates on all devices including laptops, mobiles and smart devices. In 2017 a global Ransomware attack crippled hospital systems around the world. The cause? A remote code execution vulnerability that only existed on outdated Windows operating systems. Make sure you have antivirus software installed and keep it up to date too.

  1. Passwords:

Passwords are an important line of defence against cybercrime – but most are easily guessed. It’s easy for someone to collect information you reveal about yourself online and use it to crack your passwords. Therefore, it is important that you avoid the use of your family members’ names, date of birth or any other easy-to-guess personal details. You should avoid using the same passwords across multiple devices. Lastly, you should use two factor authentication for online banking activities.

  1. Social Media:

Social media is an easy place for cybercriminals to mine personal data so you need to be discerning with the information you share. The settings of all major social media networks have privacy options so approved followers can view your profile. Think about the information you share online like birthdays, age, address, or school. Use a nickname or an alternative profile pic to help protect your identity when online gaming or on social media.

  1. Public Wi-Fi:

Information shared on a public Wi-Fi network can be intercepted by cybercriminals. Use public Wi-Fi networks wisely and with caution – make sure your anti-virus software and patching are up to date and avoid sending or receiving sensitive information. If you must make a sensitive transaction or send sensitive data you should only use secure websites that have: https:// instead of http:// and the lock symbol at the start of the address.

  1. Privacy:

Always read policies for websites and applications on how they use your information. If you’re not comfortable with the information they request then consider if you really want to sign up. The less personal information your family shares online, the better.

  1. Backup:

If you are compromised it is important you are able to recover family photos, videos, personal and financial information. Your data can be intentionally stolen but it can also be unintentionally compromised through a hardware failure or accidental deletion. It is important you backup your data and enable automatic back-ups of your data to a cloud provider or to an external drive.

These key steps and activities will minimise the risk of being compromised. In the event of an incident take the following steps:

  • Immediately notify your bank/financial institutions of the incident
  • Notify your family and friends so they are aware
  • Immediately change your passwords on all devices even if they are different
  • Inform the ACSC & police
  • Notify the relevant websites involved in the incident
  • Have a cyber-specialist rebuild your device/devices
  • Request a credit report from a reputable credit reference bureau

So you think you’ve heard this all before – well maybe you have but if you are still using 123456 as your password then you could be one of the 23.2 million hacked accounts worldwide that share your password.

Think again – your online identity will thank you.


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