A Deakin cybersecurity expert has warned Australians against the increased risk of cybercrime or data breach as the nation celebrates Stay Smart Online Week, running Oct. 07-13, themed “Reverse the Threat of Cybercrime.”
Damien Manuel, Director of Deakin University’s Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation, said one in three Australians now face the risk of being impacted by cybercrime or data breach, as cybercriminals find more creative ways to hack through digital defences.
“Australians lost more than $10 million to scammers last year and cybercrime appears headed in one direction,” Manuel said. “Everyone has a story about a relative, parent, or child who has been a victim of digital crime, through a phone or email scam, a malicious website or attachment like ransomware. Last week, we saw a number of hospitals and patients impacted across Victoria.”
Manuel said people are susceptible to scams because we are “curious, social animals” that are “often more trusting than we should be.”
“When we are connecting with people by phone, over the internet or by email, we don’t see body language cues that we normally use to assess risk in people we don’t know,” Manuel said. “It is also easy for scammers to use fear to get people to become compliant and follow instructions and orders, such as looking like the tax office or police. They manipulate our anxieties and then force us to make decisions fast without thinking through the consequences. Emails or SMS messages that require urgent action are often a warning sign to consumers, especially if these items contain links.
To prevent becoming victims to cybercrimes, Manuel said it was important to be more cautious with people we encounter online.
“Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know and remain suspicious when you hear from people you do know,” Manuel said. “It is very easy to attack someone via email as malicious codes can be buried in photos, PDFs, or attached documents,” Manuel said. “If you don’t need to open something, don’t open it. If someone calls and pretends to be from the ATO, Telstra, Optus, or so on, ring them back, but use details from an old bill or directly from their website.”