Nicolas Bishop is a Senior Security Consultant in Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC), a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and an ISO Certified Lead Auditor of Information Security Management Systems. He currently supports private organisations in Australia, mainly within the financial, banking and Government sectors, in assessing and improving their cyber-security posture.
He covered topics on:
- Ways to stay financially safe online
- How to stay Cybersecurity risk-free
- Being safe looking after your money online while avoiding scams
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity involves measures that are taken to protect computer systems, networks, and sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, or damage.
As university students, most of us are already managing our finances online:
- Doing online banking
- Mobile payments
- Sending money to and from family members overseas
Even though there are well-established security standards, cyber threats are still very common and can come in various forms – from phishing emails and fake websites to malware and ransomware attacks.
1. Prevent phishing scams
Phishing Scams are the most common way that cybercriminals target people. They do this by sending you an email or a text message that looks like it’s from a legitimate company but is actually fake.
Ways to identify and avoid phishing scams:
- Be cautious and sceptical of any unexpected or suspicious messages
- Never click on links or download attachments from unknown senders, and always double-check the sender's email address or phone number
- Look for signs such as spelling errors, strange URLs, or requests for unusual information
- Look at the tone and language being sent in the message itself. They enable you by making you panic and make rash decisions
- Don't share your personal information online
- Update your family overseas about any new scams or news of cyber threats online
- Only buy from the manufacturing website itself and not third-party websites, especially when downloading software.
- Never make any financial transactions online on unsecured websites. All secure websites should have the 'https' and you should have the secure padlock on the top left corner of your browser
A great source to stay up to date with different kinds of scams currently floating around Australia and how to identify said scams is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). You can visit their website at scamwatch.gov.au.
Another great source to keep updated with is the Australian Cyber Security Centre. This website allows you to:
- Learn the basics to protect yourself
- Look at threats that are currently in the market
- Report cyber
- security threats
2. Use strong passwords
Having weak or guessable passwords is another way cybercriminals can obtain personal information online.
Tips to create strong passwords:
- Make the password long and complex
- Have at least 12 characters
- Include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols
- Include multifactor authentication when given the option
- Don't reuse passwords across multiple accounts. If one account is compromised, it can put the other accounts in danger of being hacked
- Use a password manager on all your devices. You can use this to generate complex passwords and have it remember those passwords for you across the multiple sites you use.
3. Keep software up to date and use antivirus software
It’s important to always keep your software up to date for all your devices (as well as your applications on your devices) and to use antivirus programs.
Software updates often include the latest security patches which protect you from unknown vulnerabilities and minimise attack threat surface.
Be cautious when downloading and installing software from the internet as many free programs come bundled with unwanted software or malware.
When downloading new software, only download from the manufacturer's website.
4. Limit the use of public Wi-Fi and use a VPN
It's easy for hackers to intercept your data and steal your personal information when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network.
Here are some tips to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi networks:
- Never access your bank apps, make financial transactions, or fill up sensitive personal information on websites while using public Wi-Fi on your devices.
- Turn off your Bluetooth when you're not using it.
- When you must use the internet, use your mobile cellular network for your devices.
One way to stay safer is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your data, making it harder for hackers to access your information.
5. Secure social media accounts
It’s important to Be careful of what you share on social media. In today's world, it's easy to share. a lot of personal information online without even realising it.
Cybercriminals use social media to steal the identities of people and gain access to their accounts. This is called Social Engineering.
Cybercriminals use this stolen information to launch ransomware attacks. To avoid falling victim to this:
- Check your privacy settings on your social media and other online accounts
- Be cautious of sharing personal information with strangers on trusted websites
- Be cautious of completing online tests, fake surveys, entering online contests
- Always be vigilant and always carefully examine any message that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide your personal information
6. Protect against identity theft
Hackers pretending to be you can directly damage you financially without you even knowing until it's too late.
Hackers may steal your identity from information shared online in order to:
- Open bank accounts
- Obtain credit
- Take out personal loans
- Destroy your credit rating
Here are some ways to protect yourself against identity thieves:
- Monitor your credit reports regularly
- Look for signs such as new open accounts or inquiries that you didn't initiate
- Check for suspicious activities
- Look for unauthorised charges to your bank account
Report any suspicious activity to your financial institutions immediately.