Personal Cybersecurity and You

Cybersecurity threats are much harder to imagine than threats such as home security and personal safety, this doesn’t make it less important.
11th January 2024

Cybersecurity threats are much harder to imagine than threats such as home security and personal safety, but this doesn’t make them less important. Most activities you do every day involve the internet – banking, shopping, and social media, to name a few. For each of these, you use your name, email address and payment information; this is all information that in a normal situation you wouldn’t hand over to a stranger, so why don’t people protect it in the same way while online? Poor cybersecurity can lead to identity theft, financial loss, malware, and data corruption.

A recent report from the AIC (Australian Institute of Criminology) found that younger people, First Nations people, non-English speakers, and people with a disability were more likely to be victims of Cybercrimes.

There are many ways you can take control of your personal cyber security. Here are a few tips on how you can better protect yourself; these can be combined for the best security.

Strong Passwords

Passwords are a popular line of defence and are often required for accessing accounts and devices that we use every day. Some of the most common passwords in Australia for 2023 included, ‘123456’, ‘Password’, ‘banned’ and ‘Abc123’, these Passwords can easily be guessed by criminals within seconds. It’s recommended that you use passwords that are at least 20 characters long, including numbers, symbols, and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. Avoid using personal information such as your date of birth, your pet’s name, or your favourite sporting team.

If you can’t remember a 20-character password, consider using a passphrase. This is a string of random words, the longer the phrase the harder it would be to guess. A passphrase could be the first words that come to mind or multiple completely random words. An example of a passphrase is “dropper thrive travel process”, these words are unpredictable and would take a longer time to crack than a conventional single-word password. Ensure that these are words easy for you to remember but harder for others to guess.

Avoid using the same password/passphrases for multiple accounts – remember if one of your accounts is compromised then other accounts that use the same password will also be at risk.

Password managers can help you create complex passwords for your accounts and then auto-fill them. LastPass, NordPass, Norton Password Manager and Bitwarden are popular managers.   They are securely stored in an encrypted folder where you need one master passphrase/password to access.

Other helpful tips

  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA is another way to verify that you are the authorised user of your device. Fingerprint and face scanners are common MFA systems that you can easily set up on your device. These are unique to you. Check your device settings to see what Multi-Factor Authentication can be used.
  • Keep your devices up to date: Setting up automatic updates helps ensure your applications and devices are using the most up-to-date software to fix any security concerns
  • Perform regular backups: Backups are digital copies of your information that are saved to a separate location. This means you can restore your most important files if something goes wrong, for instance, if your device breaks or is hacked.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi: Although it is convenient, public Wi-Fi can easily be intercepted. Avoid using Public Wi-Fi when you are online shopping, banking, sending or receiving emails, or entering passwords or banking information.
  • Use quality antivirus software: This software can detect, isolate, and remove any malicious software on your device. This Malicious software (Malware for short) can be used to corrupt, erase, or copy your sensitive data for criminal use.

For more information about practical ways to protect yourself online visit Learn the basics | You can also learn more about staying safe online by revisiting our blog Scams Awareness Week– What is a Scam.

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