Almost one in three Australian adults were affected by cybercrime last year

New data shows Australians are reporting cybersecurity incidents every 10 minutes and it’s costing Australian businesses $29 billion each year.

A person sits in front of a computer screen

File photo Source: AAP

Australians are reporting cybercrimes every 10 minutes, according to the country's online security watchdog.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has received more than 13,500 reports of cybercrime since a new online portal opened in July.

People lost an average of $700 to cybercrimes, according to survey results released by the centre on Monday.

And, the federal government estimates cybersecurity incidents cost Australian businesses $29 billion each year.

Almost one in three Australian adults were affected by cybercrime last year.

Online fraud is the most common type of cybercrime reported, including people clicking links in messages claiming to be from their bank and filling out online banking details.

But it also included people duped by online love rats who were convinced to wire thousands of dollars abroad.

This was closely followed by identity fraud, with criminals opening bank accounts in other people's names.

Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre Rachel Noble told the ABC: "We see all sorts of types of things that criminals will do."

"So ransomware, for example, that's when criminals stop your business from being able to run, by seizing up your computer system and threatening you and making you pay a large sum of money to get your computer system running again. We see romance scams, identity thefts..." she said

Victoria reported the largest share of cybercrime to the centre, closely followed by Queensland and NSW.

Northern Territorians reported the fewest cases.

Over two-thirds of those who reported a financial loss because of cybercrime were aged between 25 and 34.

Two in five people said they used the same password for all, if not most, of their accounts, with the names of pets or family members the most popular.

Ms Noble said all Australians connected to the internet were vulnerable.

"The threat is real, but there is something you can do about it," Ms Noble said.

This included using different passwords between devices, updating software whenever possible and switching on privacy settings for social media accounts.

Dr Nalin Arachchilage - who is is a senior research fellow in Cyber Security at La Trobe University - said: "Cybercriminals are interested in breaking into people's mindset rather than breaking into systems straight away."

"Social engineering, manipulating humans is much more effective and cheap," he said.

How to protect yourself

Statistics show while more people are self-reporting being a victim of cybercrime, some groups, such as those who become involved in love scams and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, are more reluctant.

Dr John Williams, who is the Deputy Director of the Cyber Security Centre at the University of Queensland said "Not reusing passwords, and particularly making sure you've got a secure, unique password for your primary email account” is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself.

“Because once that's compromised it's really easy for attackers to then move sideways, to other high-value accounts like eBay or Paypal,” he said.

“The other thing to remember is don't undertake high-value transactions purely on the basis of an email.

“Always verify by phone if you can and if possible, independently verify the phone number itself.

“So when you're sending a large amount of money it's really worthwhile taking a few extra minutes to just verify that that's correct."

He says people with digital literacy should help educate others.

"Talk to your friends, talk to your family, to your coworkers about cybercrime.

“If you've got a little more skill, a little more literacy, you can then share that knowledge.

“It's almost like a public health message if you like."

With additional reporting from AAP

4 min read
Published 7 October 2019 at 10:36am
By Julia Carr-Catzel