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10 Ways to Protect Yourself in the Fight Against Covid Cybercrime.

Covid-19 has created the perfect storm for cybercrime. With a large percentage of the workforce now working from home, cybercriminals are finding it woefully easy to prey on the vulnerable. With Cyber Security Awareness Month now underway, it’s the perfect time to make sure you and your team are cyber-safe and secure.

Cybercrime is running hot with a large work from home workforceAs the world’s attention is fixed firmly on the global public health crisis, cybercriminals are waiting in the wings, ready to pounce when opportunity knocks. A look through history shows us that exploiting people and businesses in times of natural disasters and pandemics is not a new concept, with confusion and fear delivering the ideal breeding ground for cyberattacks. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), in the 2020-21 financial year there were:

  • over 22,000 calls to the Cyber Security Hotline – an increase of more than 310% from the previous financial year.
  • over 67,500 cybercrime reports, with losses totalling more than $33 billion.
  • more than 1,500 cybercrime reports of malicious cyber activity related to the coronavirus pandemic, with over 75% resulting in Australians losing money or personal information.

Hackers are extremely clever when it comes to disguising their activity, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to spot a hacking attempt. Phishing, malicious links, email compromise, malware, ransomware, fake landing pages… the list is long and disturbingly creative. By simply clicking on a link, you can unwittingly give hackers open access to all your data, setting in motion an unstoppable chain of events.

So what can we do to stay safe and secure while working from home?

We asked Brian Hay, one of Australia’s most renowned Cyber Security specialists and winner of McAfee’s international award for Cybercrime Fighter of the Year (yes, really!), for his expert advice.

Ok Brian, first of all – how do cyberattacks happen?

Think of it like this. Every time you get in your car, you increase your risk of an accident. And when an accident happens, what’s generally the cause? The failure of the motor vehicle technology, or the behaviour of the person behind the wheel? That’s right, the behaviour of the person. The challenge we face with cyber security and cyber safety is that we think it’s all about the technology, when in fact it’s all about the people. Up to 95% of all data breaches are caused by people, not technology failures. 96 – 99% of cyberattacks are directed at the person – not the network – why? Because we are the soft target – the vulnerability!

Well that’s just scary. How can we reduce our risk of falling victim to a cyberattack?

First, we need to get our attitude right:

  • Understand that there’s no such thing as privacy on the internet – when you connect to it, it connects to you!
  • Appreciate that in the eyes of a cybercriminal, we are all legitimate targets.
  • Accept you will be approached – by email, by phone calls, by SMS messages – so prepare.

Next, we need to work on our behaviours and arm ourselves with some tools to help us in our fight.

10 ways you can protect yourself against cybercrime:

  1. Dodgy links: Never click on an embedded hyperlink or button in an unsolicited email, and you will never fall for a phishing attack.
  2. Phone protocol: Develop your own personal phone protocol – don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know, if it’s important they’ll leave a message. Likewise, don’t respond to unsolicited SMS messages (friends excepted).
  3. Authentication: To elevate your security through the roof, always enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  4. Strong passwords: Create strong passwords or passphrases and remember – 1 password = 1 account, don’t double-dip!
  5. Safe passwords: Consider using a Password Manager – life will become so much easier and safer.
  6. Not for kids: Don’t let the kids on the work devices.
  7. Oversharing: Don’t overshare on social media, you never know who’s watching!
  8. VPN: Use a virtual private network (VPN), it’s a simple way to secure open wifi and prevent prying eyes.
  9. Antivirus: Ensure you’re using antivirus and your systems are set for auto-updates.
  10. Whoops: Sometimes accidents happen – so back up every day!

And here’s one more tip for good measure. Did you know that no government body, including the ATO, AFP, MyGov and Medicare, will ever send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment? They’ll also never use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones to be targeted by cybercriminals, make sure you report it via ReportCyber. You can also contact the ACSC via email or through the Australian Cyber Security Hotline on 1300 cyber1 (1300 292 371) for advice and assistance.

And remember… if you connect it, protect it. Cyber security is everyone’s job, so do your part and #BeCyberSmart!

As well as providing expert cyber security services to the corporate world, Brian Hay is also a highly sought-after presenter thanks to his engaging, humorous and down-to-earth approach. A virtual cyber security presentation from Brian will provide your remote workforce with the knowledge and practical advice necessary to keep them cyber-safe, and help prevent an online disaster from derailing your business. If you’d like to engage Brian to speak to your team,
get in touch with us for a chat.


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