Australian cyber-crime and scams cost $56 million last year. Despite best efforts, cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated each and every day. In the wake of the September 2022 Optus security breach, where millions of Australians’ personal information was stolen and potentially sold to scammers and other cyber-criminals, protecting against cybercrime and scams is as important as ever for consumers and business owners alike.
- Nothing left unlocked
Though it may be a pain, if your device or application uses passwords to authenticate usage, you need to set them up immediately. It only takes seconds for a hacker or nefarious actor to access your phone or PC without looking if you don’t have a password or other authentication method installed.
- Use a password manager
Every single application, website, and device you use should have its own password that changes regularly. These should be strong combinations of letters, numbers, symbols, and other characters, so they are not easily cracked by hackers using sophisticated cracking rigs. A password manager can help you keep track of passwords across your devices, remind you to update passwords, and keep your master list of passwords encrypted.
- Use two-factor authentication
Two factor authentication (2FA) is another layer of protection to prevent ‘man in the middle’ attacks. You not only need a password to get into a site or application, but you’ll also need a special One-Time Password (OTP) generated by an Authenticator app (Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator) or sent to you via SMS or email.
- Automatically update your software
Out of date anti-virus software is about as useful as a flywire door on a submarine. You need to keep all your software up to date- developers patch up exploits and vulnerabilities or update definitions of malware and viruses so they can catch new variants that may be circulating. Set your software to automatically update so you aren’t caught out.
- Monitor your accounts
Having alerts for transactions or unusual activity can help you see if criminal third parties have access to your accounts. Real-time transaction alerts on your phone can show you if people are using your credit cards, online payment systems, or bank account, and give you extra piece of mind.
- Know how scams work
There are many resources out there alerting you and others to the latest scams. Scam operations are sophisticated, organised criminal businesses using cutting-edge technology. Payment redirection scams cost Australian business $227 million in the last year alone- a 77% increase over 2020. Subscribing to ScamWatch or other fraud protection sites that track these scams means you’ll be wise to new scams as they arise.
- Hone your scam detector
If you think it’s a scam, it probably is. ‘Spear phishing’, which uses public or stolen information to glean more information from you, can look very convincing. If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend or colleague or report the email or SMS (or communication) to ScamWatch. YouTube videos produced by dedicated ‘scambaiters’ are also a fun and informative way to keep on top of how scams work.
- Sign up to identity protection or breach lists
Identity protection services can help monitor if your personal information has been breached or stolen. Credit reporting bureaux also offer paid services that alert you if your credit score or history has changed, so you can nip any potential identity theft in the bud before it gets too far.
- Watch for warning signs
If you are receiving unauthorised 2FA attempts or emails asking suspicious questions, update your passwords immediately. Do not click links in out-of-the-blue ‘change your password’ emails, even if they look legitimate. Always check with your provider if you suspect something isn’t right; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Freeze your credit report
You can request a ban on others accessing your credit report for at least 21 days. This stops criminals from applying for or checking your credit while the freeze is active. This may be essential if you have strong suspicion your identity has been stolen, or you have evidence your identity has been used in criminal activities already.
Savvy CEO Bill Tsouvalas shares, “Some people who get legitimate-looking texts of emails from their bank saying their account is under threat will click without a second thought, especially if they’re not computer literate or have trouble with English. It’s up to those of us with IT skills to bring culturally and linguistically diverse communities together to inform one another of new scams, even if they seem obvious to you and others such as myself, who interact with financial technology every day. Greater awareness of scams and cyber fraud is as effective as anti-malware and strong passwords. It all begins with us.”
Founded in 2010, Savvy started out as an online asset finance broker. They have since helped thousands of Australians each year save on financial products, whether that be by guiding them through the finance process or giving them the tools to effectively compare the best deals on the market. Savvy partners with a range of industry-leading brands to bring together a high-quality selection of offers for comparison, applications, and savings.
As an Australian-made, owned, and run business, Savvy’s priority is and always will be to help Australians from all walks of life find the right products for their needs.
Savvy’s full report with visuals is available at: https://www.savvy.com.au/cybercrime-in-australia-2022-report-how-to-protect-you-and-your-family/