Keeping your personal information secure online is very important, particularly as scammers continue to develop new ways to trick you into providing personal details or getting access to your computer.
We've put together 10 tips to help protect you from being scammed or having your personal details stolen, particularly when you're online.
Realise that you are an attractive target to hackers. Don’t ever say “It won’t happen to me.” You have money and sensitive information.
Practice good password management. Use a strong mix of characters and don’t use the same password for multiple sites. Even better, think about using a passphrase, which is a sequence of words or other text that is long, including symbols and not necessarily grammatically correct. Don’t share your password with others, don’t write it down, and definitely don’t write it on a post-it note attached to your monitor or even stored away.
Never leave your devices unattended. If you need to leave your computer, phone, or tablet for any length of time—no matter how short—lock it up so no one can use it while you’re gone. If you keep sensitive information on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure access is passcode protected as well.
Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in email. If it’s unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double check the URL of the website the link takes you to before accessing the link. Scammers will often take advantage of subtle spelling mistakes to direct you to a harmful domain instead of the real one. Read our tips on identifying fraudulent emails here.
Sensitive browsing, such as banking or shopping, should only be done on a device that belongs to you, on a network that you trust. Whether it’s a friend’s phone, a public computer, or a cafe’s free WiFi—your data could be copied or stolen.
Back up your data regularly and make sure your anti-virus software is always up to date.
Be conscientious of what you plug in to your computer. Malware can be spread through infected flash drives, external hard drives, and even smartphones.
Watch what you’re sharing on social networks. Criminals can befriend you and easily gain access to a shocking amount of information—where you go to school, where you work, when you’re on vacation—that could help them gain access to more valuable data or property.
Be wary of social engineering when offline. This is where someone attempts to gain information from you through manipulation. If someone calls or emails you asking for sensitive information, it’s okay to say no. You can always call the company directly to verify credentials before giving out any information.
Be sure to monitor your bank accounts for any suspicious activity. If you see something unfamiliar, it could be a sign that you’ve been compromised. If you think that you’ve been the victim of identity theft or had unauthorised transactions made on your account, it’s important to let your bank know immediately.Scam Alert Service for individuals, families and businesses. Learn more from the Australian Cyber Security Centre.