Tips for Fighting Off Cybercrimes in 2020
Cybercrime is on the rise and becoming more sophisticated in Australia. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, almost one in three Australian adults were affected by cybercrime and over 60% of businesses encounter cybersecurity issues monthly, which is costing businesses an estimated $29 billion lost every year.
Because of the country’s relative wealth and high use of technology, it attracts many serious and organised crime syndicates for possible lucrative financial gains.
Last month, Prime Minister Morrison has announced that a wide range of political and private-sector organisations in the country had been targeted by a cyberattack that was reportedly carried out by a “sophisticated state-based cyber-actor”. The government had to allocate a budget of $748 million to fortify the country’s cybersecurity workforce and better respond to future cybercrime threats.
While the government is doing its best to fight off cybercriminals who are trying to make a profit from everyday Australians, everyone should also do their part in combating cybersecurity threats regardless if they’re using the internet for personal or business use.
Want to learn more about the most common Cyber Crimes targeting Business Owners? We've collated stats from Department of Home Affairs, Stay Smart Online Australia, ACCC Scamwatch 2019, and CIO Magazine 2019. Download it today.
What is Cybercrime?
Any crime that takes place online or primarily online is considered a cybercrime. It is a criminal activity that either targets or uses a computer, computer network, or networked device to make money or damage computers for political or personal reasons.
Cybercrimes are performed by anyone with malicious intent--from misguided kids and teens who have yet to reach emotional maturity to novice hackers who exploring the limits and edges of the computer system and cybersecurity to organized syndicates with highly skilled specialists, advanced techniques, and sophisticated tools.
Aside from hacking and spreading of viruses and worms across networks, online activities like cyberstalking, harassment, bullying, revenge porn, and child sexual exploitation are also considered cybercrimes.
Types of Cybercrime
While cybercrime encompasses a broad spectrum of offences performed with the use of computer and the internet, it is mainly focused on the use of viruses and other types of malware to enter into a computer system or network to vandalise hardware and software components or access and exploit data.
- Ransomware attacks
- Cyberextortion, which demands money to prevent a threatened attack
- Email and internet fraud
- Identity fraud
- Theft of personal and financial data
- Theft and sale of corporate data
- Cryptojacking, which mines cryptocurrency using the victim's computer
- Cyberespionage, which accesses the government or company's confidential data
It also includes computer-related crimes, such as:
- Online bullying and harassment
- Selling of illegal items online
- Copyright infringement
- Illegal gambling
- Wildlife trafficking
- Human trafficking
- Soliciting, producing or possessing child pornography
- Revenge porn, which involves the non-consensual sharing and distribution of the victim's sexual images or videos online
How to Protect Yourself Against Cybercrimes
Once you logged into your computer and use the internet, you connect into the limitless cyberspace and its countless users, good and bad.
Here are some tips to keep yourself away from cybercriminals:
Keep software updated
Your computer’s operating system and various installed software constantly update with the latest security patches and features, so make sure to run these updates no matter how annoying or time-wasting they are
Cybercriminals target exploits or flaws in your software to gain access to your system, but regularly patching those vulnerabilities can prevent their entry. It’s undoubtedly wiser to take that 15 minutes or so of “annoying” computer updates than spend a long time to fix an infected or compromised computer.
Install a trusted antivirus
An antivirus program or a comprehensive internet security solution helps clean or remove infected files from your PC or Mac, protect your server from malware and malicious attacks, and makes your computer work faster. Most of the time, an infected computer slows down and becomes unstable. Sometimes, it also freezes or shuts down or restarts on its own.
By having antivirus software on yours and your staff’s computers, you can easily detect and remove threats before they can do any harm.
See to it that your antivirus software is updated and you run a full system scan at least once a week.
Use strong passwords
Your computer and internet passwords are your security against unauthorized access of your computer and the tampering with your files. Therefore, always use passwords on all your computer and mobile devices.
When creating passwords, make sure that they are difficult to guess. Strong and complex passwords use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use the same passwords for multiple sites and don’t keep on using them for years. Always change them regularly so that even when they are hacked, they can only be used by unauthorised people for a limited period.
Use a trusted password manager to help you generate strong passwords randomly. A password management application, meanwhile, can help keep your passwords locked down.
If your password has been hacked, immediately check for any files or programs in your computer may have been accessed or destroyed by hackers. Do not also forget to change your password ASAP.
Never open attachments or click on links in spam emails
Hackers are known to send malware, viruses and other threats via email for years, usually in through attachments and links. Quite an obsolete strategy, really, but the fact that it’s still going around in 2020 simply means that there are still a lot of people who fall victim to it.
Don’t let the old trick fool you. Do not entertain spam emails nor click on their links or download attachments. Be wary of opening email attachments from senders that you do not know no matter how legit their addresses may seem. If the email address uses a company name, do a quick online research of the company and the sender first.
Keep personal information, personal
Be wary of providing your personal information over the phone or email, especially with someone that you have not met in person before. If you are certain that the caller is a company or government representative, only give out your personal data if the phone line or email is secure. If you receive any suspicious request, especially involving money, contact the company directly.
If someone claims to be a representative from a company, bank or government agency asking for personal and financial information or payment on a debt that you may have incurred, it is best to not entertain. Instead, call the company using the number on their official website and ask for clarifications regarding the matter.
When contacting companies, use a different phone number. Sometimes, even if you hang up on a random caller, they can hold your line open and pretend to be from the company they claim to be representing when you think you’ve redialled.
Be mindful of the websites you visit
When visiting websites, always keep an eye on the URLs. Generally, your antivirus software warns you when a website is potentially malicious. However, some sophisticated hackers can design a website that looks legit but is not on closer inspection. These copycat websites mimic legit sites, like Facebook or a bank’s official website, to steal the information you provide during login. Some sites copy online shopping portals to steal financial information like credit cards and bank numbers.
If you have an online banking app, keep an eye on your bank statements and report any unfamiliar transactions to your bank, which can investigate whether they are fraudulent. Change your password if your account has been compromised.
There are also malicious websites that inject malware into your computer. To avoid getting infected, always heed your antivirus’s warning before opening a new URL. If you find yourself already navigating the site, refrain from clicking on links.
Secure your social media
One of the simplest ways for cybercriminals to get information about their targets is by checking the later’s Facebook, Instagram, and other social media pages. One can learn a lot about a person through the posts they share, such as their full name, birthday, company, and lifestyle. This personal information can be used for hacking, catfishing, pornography, and various other cybercrimes.
No matter how wonderful your life is, do not share everything on social media. Limit your visibility on Facebook and other social networking sites by turning off your public profile. Aside from ensuring that you only share your life to people you know, it also keeps you from being found on search engines.
Do not constantly share your activities to prevent stalkers from knowing your daily patterns and routine. Sharing a live video of you enjoying an expensive concert is fun until you come home and find out that your place has been robbed because the criminals know you’re not at home.
As for your business’s social media pages, assign a few trusted employees to manage and maintain them. Keep a copy of all the login credentials so that when an employee who manages these pages leaves your company, you can easily change the password and prevent anyone from stealing your accounts.
Use a Virtual Private Network
A VPN can secure your connection to another network over the Internet. It encrypts all traffic from your devices to the destination servers.
Even if hackers manage to access your communication line, they cannot intercept anything but encrypted data.
It is highly recommended to use a VPN when you’re always using the public WiFi network at airports, hotels, cafés, and libraries.
Educate your children about online safety and responsibility
Children nowadays have easy access to the Internet, thanks to smartphones and free WiFis. Instead of preventing them from the Internet, which seems almost impossible, teach them how to be responsible and smart online.
Explain to them the:
- Dangers of providing their personal information online, including photos and videos
- Risks of connecting and making friends with people they do not personally know
- The harmful effects of cyberbullying and
- Importance of sharing their online activities with you
Always remind them to come to you if they’re experiencing any kinds of online harassment, bullying, or stalking.
You can also monitor your kids’ activities online and keep them away from inappropriate sites by using parental control apps like Google Family Link.
Seek professional help
If you or your loved ones have fallen victim of to any cybercrimes, alert the local police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation immediately. This is especially important is the crime involves stalking, harassment, and extortion. Even if it seems minor, seeking professional help will you safe and stop criminals from taking advantage of other people.
If you’re a victim of identity theft:
- Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
- Reach out to companies and banks where the identity theft was discovered and work with them in investigating and resolving identity theft and financial fraud if it occurred
- Place fraud alerts and get your credit reports.
Never hesitate to report cybercrimes to relevant officials. The sooner you do it, the more people and businesses you can protect.
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