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Don’t get locked out: school yourself on cybersecurity

How much do you know about cybersecurity? Enough to spot a dodgy email immediately or do you still use your name and birth date for all your passwords?

Anthony Stitt is the general manager of security for IT and networking giant Cisco Australia and New Zealand. He says that while Australians are becoming more aware of cybersecurity issues, we’re still too naïve about the threat it poses. Considering that Australians are more likely to victims of cybercrime (63%) than physical crime (54%) it’s time we all started taking cyber security seriously.

Cyerberattacks can cripple both people and businesses. Stitt says that the repercussion of cyber attacks can affect people “personally, professionally, financially and emotionally.” For businesses a cyberattack can send them offline for days and cost them thousands in lost productivity and/or ransoms. And please don’t take the stance of “but I’m a poor student what could anyone take from me?” because the truth is they can take a lot. Your identity is worth a fortune to cybercriminals and Gen Y are actually more likely to be targeted for identity theft and blackmail than baby boomers.

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Guys don’t let this be you. Stay secure online. Source

There are three main types of cyber attacks:

1. Ransomware

A type of malware that monitors actions on infected devices (even down to keystrokes) and shares this confidential information with the perpetrator. It often also locks the user out of the device until a ransom is paid. Ransomware can target mobile phones as well as laptops and desktops, and is the most widely reported type of cyber attack (the recent and widely publicised WannaCry attacks were ransomeware).

2. Phishing

“Hello my name is Bakare Tunde and I am a prince from Nigeria. I am in urgent need of assistance but can reward you handsomely for helping me. Please transfer $1000 via Western Union”…. sound familiar? These are a form of phishing attack which trick people into willingly giving away their personal details (e.g. credit card details) or downloading attachments that infect their device. According to Stitt these are some of the hardest attacks to prevent as they “are generally reliant on human curiosity and good faith.”

3. Password attacks

This is basically where someone tries to gain access to your device our online accounts by cracking your password. These attacks can be prevented by creating a strong password and changing it frequently – that means NO BIRTH DATES!

There are a few common mistakes that make people more susceptible to cyberattacks. And the biggest mistake you can make is one we’re all guilty of: sharing personal information online. This includes everything from check-ins to posting that you’re away on holiday or letting everyone know your birth date.

“Potential attackers can collate this information and use it against you in a number of ways, such as impersonating or blackmailing you,” says Stitt

Of course there are ways we can better secure ourselves online.

The more you understand the different threats out there, the tell-tale signs to watch out for and the consequences that follow – the less likely you are to fall for a costly trap,” says Stitt.

There are a few simple steps you can take right now to make sure you play it safe on the internet. Firstly make sure you have up to date anti-virus software installed on all your devices. Then make sure all your passwords are strong and diverse – a password manager can help you remember them all. Make sure you back-up all your data regularly on a cloud drive or external hard drive and in the case you do get attacked be sure to report it to the police. For those interested in learning more about cybersecurity (which should be all of us really) Cisco offers a free Introduction to Cybersecurity course online through their Cisco Networking Academy.

Now go and change your passwords ASAP!