3 common online security threats and how to avoid them

3 common online security threats and how to avoid them

Written on December 15, 2016 at 08:35 AM By Emily Gam

I wonder if that lovely Nigerian Prince was finally ever able to access his riches?

With more princely sums on offer, it’s no surprise that scammers and hackers are getting better and more sophisticated at what they do, in fact there has been a 39% increase in macro based malware (malware that hides in Word or Excel documents) in the last quarter.

The amount of malware based attacks are increasing so quickly that according to Commonwealth Bank figures, 1 in 6 cyber jobs in Australia will never be filled due to lack of skills.

It’s a scary thought that there are so many cyber criminals out there, so it pays to know what you’re up against. We’ve put together a list of the different types of scams you need to know, and what you can do to stay safe.

Phishing

Phishing is when a scammer sends out an email claiming to be from a well-known organisation in an attempt to gather personal and financial information. You typically see these emails come from banks, mail carriers etc.

Several recent phishing campaigns targeting Australians have featured precise replicas of the imitated organisation’s brand design and competent use of English, where the typical phishing email might historically have been easier to identify thanks to spelling errors, poor grammar and inconsistent design.

It is important to remember that the real organisations will never ask for your personal or financial information. If you suspect that an email you received is a phishing scam but you aren’t sure, contact the organisation. Make sure you independently search for their contact info, and don’t use the details provided in the email.

Smishing

Smishing is the same as Phishing but is conducted over SMS (get it?) Australian regulatory bodies have warned about the increased use of ‘Smishing’ to steal account details from smartphone users, both in Australia and across the globe.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Cyber Security Centre has reported that Smishing campaigns has grown 500% since the start of 2016.

Follow the same advice as Phishing, don’t click on links from unknown senders, or messages that look suspicious. Reputable organisations won’t ask you to provide credentials via SMS, so be wary of any message asking you to supply your details.

Ransomware

Ransomware encrypts your hard drive via malware and demands payment by threatening to destroy your data.

The ACCC’s ScamWatch reports that the average amount lost by Australians reporting Ransomware attacks leapt from an average of $15,000 earlier in the year to $50,000 in August 2016.

Ransomware can use Phishing and Smishing techniques to infiltrate your device so follow the same best practices as mentioned above.

At the time of writing, Scam Watch reports that over 70 million dollars has been lost to scammers in Australia in 2016 alone. That is a huge number and set to get bigger with more and more sophisticated scams popping up. Remember to always stay vigilant about what links you click and what information you provide. It’s also important to have a working Disaster Recovery Plan in place in case everything goes belly up.

Disaster Recovery Plan Template

  Disaster Recovery Plan

Recent Posts