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The Rise of Cybercrime in Australia & How We Can Keep Ourselves Safe

Many have referred to this period of time as the golden age for scammers. Never has our society been more technologically reliant, thus creating the perfect playground for cybercriminals. It is not just the older generations that have been targeted with the sophisticated schemes, but everyday Australians too. 

Today we will look at the rise of cybercrime in Australia and what we can do to keep ourselves safe such as using a premium or free VPN service, amongst other valuable cybersecurity measures.

A brief history of cybercrime in Australia

It is always hard to pinpoint when a criminal element first emerges in the country, so we can only go on what has been reported. The Cybercrime Act was introduced in 2001, following advancements in cybercrime reporting. The Act was actually an amendment added to the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act of 1995. This foundational act is broad in its cybercrime inclusions, but it essentially is in place to safeguard and prosecute crimes such as hacking, malware intrusions, and denial of service (DOS) attacks. 

What does cybercrime look like in Australia?

Like most other nations worldwide, cybercrime is rife in Australia, with cybersecurity strategies growing more dynamic and sophisticated every day. Modern cybercrime is all about deception, lulling Australians into a false sense of security so they can relinquish sensitive information that will generally lead to financial theft or extortion. 

Some of the most dangerous cybercrimes out there are ones that will imitate authoritative institutions like Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office, and banks. Scammers will typically ask for an outstanding bill to be paid or encourage the victim to click a link to resolve some unexpected issue. While these scams can also be conducted over the phone, they typically take place online and take the guise of a fraudulent email or SMS text message. 

There are also increasing reports of camfesting, a form of hacking where malicious third parties can actually get control of webcams and other device camera functions to record users by using malware to infiltrate a device. Webcam recordings can then potentially be used to blackmail users. This sounds like it is straight out of the plot of a crime novel, but these are the instances we are seeing all across the country.

How can we keep ourselves safe against cybercrime?

It would not be alarmist to say that no one is safe against cybercrime. Individuals can fall victim to cybercrime at any point in time and regardless of where in the world they may find themselves. Performing functions on autopilot on our computers and other personal devices can lead to us missing warning signs, so take your time in reading and assessing information before interacting with unknown elements on your screens. 

Fortunately, however, there are measures that you can take to protect yourself, your family, and even your business online. Here are our most highly recommended cybersecurity measures for all Australian device users.

Use trusted systems and services

Blindly downloading files without thinking critically can be a surefire way of opening your computer up to malware. This is why we highly recommended steering clear of pirating, torrenting, or streaming media content from unknown sites, as well as limiting your engagement with dubious content online. 

On top of this, you should use quality VPN and firewall services, anti-malware software, and verified extensions, alongside thoroughly assessing the source when downloading anything at all. Remember, just because it looks legitimate does not mean that it is.

Connect in a safe, trusted place

It can be tempting to connect to free and available WiFi, but this can be a very bad idea. You have no idea how secure your connection actually is, and who else is sharing that network with you. You also do not want your laptop or mobile device to be at risk of data theft simply because malicious third parties happened to have access to your network connection. If you really need to connect to a network and operate in a public place, then use a VPN, and try connecting up to a mobile device that can act as a personal hotspot rather than an unsecured public WiFi network. 

Change your passwords often

When was the last time you changed your password? Chances are, it is probably due for a change. You want to be aiming to change your password every month. Make sure that all of your passwords are unique to each of your accounts, and that your passwords consistently contain upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Having complex passwords will naturally make it a lot harder for hackers to infiltrate your accounts, drastically reducing your risks of falling victim to cyberattacks.

Assess every platform that takes payment

Online shopping and online payments have become the norm for everyone, but that doesn’t necessarily make it safer. Before you enter the details on your card or make payment in any way, you want to assess that platform to make sure it is safe and secure to engage with. 

Make sure there is a lock icon on the left of the search bar, as this signifies that the server and website are secure to enter payment and other sensitive data. You should also resist having your computer remember your card details, as this can be a bit sloppy and increase your risk of having those card details fall into the wrong hands when shopping online. 

It is easy to slip into a fear-based approach to technology, but it is critical that you stay informed and confident online above all else. By staying vigilant and following the best practices outlined above, you’ll have a greater chance of protecting yourself from becoming another statistic in this global wave of cybercrime.

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