Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: staying smart online

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Cyber threats posed by technological developments are often one step ahead of the users and online intelligence services. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates in 2014 more than 1.6 million Australians were cyber victims of personal fraud. Language barriers can be a significant impediment to identifying threats. So, what are the dangers of cyberspace and how can we protect our privacy online?

By 2019 the average Australian household will have 24 devices connected to the internet.
These are the estimations of Australia's Cyber Security Strategy; a government plan to address the growing number of online threats. With cybercrime activities costing Australia more than $1 billion annually, it has become a government agenda to raise awareness and protect its community.

 

 

With cybercrime activities costing Australia more than $1 billion annually, it has become a government agenda to raise awareness and protect its community.

Interpol identifies two kinds of cybercrime, firstly 'advanced' which are attacks against computer hardware and software. Secondly 'cyber-enabled' crime in which traditional crimes such as fraud, crimes against children and terrorism are transformed with the internet.


The complex and international nature of cybercrime can make it hard to predict which country, businesses or people will be targeted.

However, Technical Director in the Asia Pacific region at Context, Information, Security Richard Davies, says trends emerge with large companies.

"The sort of targets that they go after depends a lot on the business break down for a particular region. In Australia you've got more mining concern than you have in the UK. For example the mining sector may see a large number of attacks before the organisation bid for raw materials such as iron-ore and so on, to give the bidders a competitive advantage. From an end user perspective or a small or medium size business perspective, there is really no difference."

One of the trending cybercrimes is social engineering - a psychological manipulation.


European Union's law enforcement agency Europol has recently released an assessment of Internet Organised Crime Threat (IOCT). It says that malicious attacks on public and private networks are relentless. One of the trending cybercrimes is social engineering - a psychological manipulation. Mr. Davies says even straight forward hard luck stories can easily fool people.

 

There's an increase of phishing attacks that use fake links sent to people to try and steal their personal data.


"Quite basic scams, they call them the love scam, where someone pretends to be a boyfriend and they request money, quite often an individual can get sucked into it. It slowly develops over time and they end up giving up large amount of money, several hundreds of dollars sometimes."

Someone would encrypt all your documents, all your family photos and then ask some, not very high, amount of money to decrypt it and get it back to you.


The Europol report also notes an increase of phishing attacks that use fake links sent to people to try and steal their personal data. Melbourne's Cyber Security Hub Director of Threat Intelligence Stas Filshtinskiy explains the growing threat of ransomware.

"Someone would encrypt all your documents, all your family photos and then ask some, not very high, amount of money to decrypt it and get it back to you. A lot of people would pay, because the entire family history would be wiped out."

To spot cyberfraud is to use your common sense.


Stas Filshtinskiy says a way to spot cyberfraud is to use your common sense.

"Like you know in a real life, if something is too good to be true, that's most probably is an attempt to defraud you. If someone would come to you and tell you that I know a place where for 100 dollars they will give you the latest  iPhone, you would probably not walk into that dark alley. If you get similar email from an absolute unknown place you shouldn't be clicking on any links or running any files coming [from] there."

In Australia, one in four students has reported being bullied online.

 
Cyber bullying is another 'cyber-enabled' crime adopted by the online users from the real world.
In Australia, one in four students has reported being bullied online, says Caitlin Wood Head of Programs at Project Rockit. Project Rockit is an Australian group which runs school workshops to tackle cyber bullying. Head of Programs Caitlin Wood says one in four students reported being bullied online.

"We have a team of incredible presenters that go into school each day and work with students coming up with incredible strategies to deal with hate online, but we are only a small team. We do service the entire country, the whole of Australia and we will often get many requests from across the country to go and work in these communities."


When English is not your first language, understanding cybercrime can be an additional challenge.


Context, Information, Security Richard Davies Richard Davies works with businesses to raise awareness about cybercrime. Educating individuals about risky phishing emails has short-term success.
            
"The results that we've found are quite interesting. For campaigns that are conducted every sort of 2 or 3 months, there is an increase in awareness and therefore a decrease of end users interacting with these emails, but if you wait a whole year and run a similar exercise again, the results are almost is exactly identical to the original one, indicating that the users didn't really increase any awareness or they just forgotten it over time."


When English is not your first language, understanding cybercrime can be an additional challenge. Stas Filshtinsky recently ran cybercrime talk for a Melbourne-based Russian Jewish community group. He says educating people is key.

It's very important for non-English speaker migrant communities to get educated around cyber safety and security.

"I think it's very important for non-English speaker migrant communities to get educated around cyber safety and security. The society around us is doing so much business online, doing it unsafe or not doing it, will only increase the disadvantages that are those communities may face in life. If we can help to educate them and to keep them safe online, that will bring benefits to everyone."


Yet, going online already implies surrendering some of private information. Richard Davies advises to start with simple online hygiene.

Going online already implies surrendering some of private information.


"From an end user perspective I would say the important thing is probably to have a healthy skepticism when it comes to interacting with emails, phone calls etc. There are a few good sources of information online that list sort of the most common scams that are happening at the moment. The other one to be honest is to keep software up to date, it doesn't always help, but it generally does protect against watering-hole attack, where you are visiting a common website which has been hacked, which will then look at target plugins in your web browser."

If you believe some of your privacy has been breached, contact the Office of the Australian Information for assistance on 1300 363 992.
You can also check the list of current online threats and find a glossary of cyber terms on Stay Smart Online.