Twenty years ago, the main source of crime in Australia was physical crime – assault, break and entry, theft, stealing a car. In 2020, those types of crimes are dwarfed by the much more prevalent, and potentially more financially damaging , cyber crimes. These are offences with names like cryptomining, data spill, denial of service, hacking, identity theft, malicious insiders, malware, phishing, ransomware and web shell malware.
Cyber-crime is now the most prevalent category of misdeeds in Australia and globally.
Just like physical crime 20 years ago required defensive actions – installing car alarms and double locks on doors, being wary about your location – individuals and businesses need to undertake preventative measures against cyber crime, before they get hurt.
The Australian Digital Health Agency, as part of National Cyber Week, promoted six practical steps for digital self-defence. The steps can protect your work and personal information.
The first was to build security awareness via a security awareness course. Understanding the crime, and how criminals behave, is critical to being cyber safe. It’s akin to understanding where not to walk late at night.
The second was to keep your software up to date. Software companies are always providing new releases to better safeguard against cyber crime. This one is like getting a better lock for your house, but its free.
Third is to use strong passwords and implement multi-factor authentication. In the 20th century it was about making sure your doors were locked at night. Today it’s about making sure no-one knows your password.
Back up your data regularly, is the fourth practical step. Remember the old xerox machines were everything was done in triplicate, just in case? This is the modern day equivalent of the xerox machine.
Number five is don’t respond to unsolicited phishing emails, texts and calls. That’s the same as your parents telling you not to talk to strangers. It was great advice back then and remains so in 2020.
And the final practical step is if you fall victim to ransomware – someone demanding money to unfreeze your system – don’t pay it. This one is a bit like cutting your losses. If you do something wrong, then ‘fess up, rather than getting into deeper trouble.
Follow these six simple steps and you will have taken significant steps towards diminishing the chance of being a victim of cyber crime.
By Sean Aylmer