The Northern Daily Leader

Cybercrime in Australia: What you need to know

Keep yourself safe from online attacks by protecting your personal information. Picture Shutterstock
Keep yourself safe from online attacks by protecting your personal information. Picture Shutterstock

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Cybercrime has been a hot topic issue here in Australia for the past few years now.

Rates of cyber attacks have been on the rise since the pandemic.

Millions of families and businesses have fallen victim to malicious parties online in recent years.

Even with all this misfortune, one undeniable benefit has arisen from this fluctuating digital landscape.

More and more Australian households and organisations are understanding the importance of cybersecurity.

After all, being aware of the threats that await us online is a foundational step in keeping ourselves safe.

But what is cybersecurity exactly?

What is cybersecurity strategising?

And how can we find all the correct tools and information to keep ourselves safe from cybercrime?

We'll be sharing some need-to-know facts and statistics about cybercrime in Australia to help you stay safe online.

Read on to help you and your household keep cybercriminals at bay.

What are the most common forms of cybercrime in Australia?

If you've ever received a spam text message or email, then you've already had a run-in with the most common form of cybercrime.

Phishing attacks and fraud-related cybercrimes (like banking or online shopping scams) target millions of Australians annually.

These cyberattacks amount to approximately 23 per cent of all incidents reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (or ACSC).

Cybersecurity experts believe that these cyberattacks are effective because we aren't aware of the warning signs of a scam.

Web users shouldn't assume that messages or emails are from legitimate sources because the sender has their personal info.

Data breaches like the Optus hack release user account information en masse, making it easy for malicious parties to create targeted phishing emails or texts.

If users engage with these phishing messages, it can leave them vulnerable to more aggressive cyberattacks in the future.

The more your personal information is available online, the greater your risks of falling victim to cybercrimes.

Ransomware attacks are also becoming common in Australia as well as across the globe.

These attacks involve hackers using malware to interfere with or restrict user access to their own computer or digital accounts until a payment is made to the attackers.

You can avoid ransomware and malware by maintaining vigilance when interacting with unfamiliar websites or other dubious channels online.

One misplaced click could land you in some hot water very quickly.

Other Australian cybercrime statistics

If you're wondering how much cybercrime costs Australian citizens annually, it is a large number and it has been on the rise in recent years.

In 2021 alone, Australians lost an estimated $1.8-2 billion due to online scams.

That figure doubled in 2022, with cybersecurity specialists estimating around $4 billion worth of financial losses.

Between January and September of 2022, Australians experienced a combined $424.8 million in losses as a result of scams alone.

This equates to more than $47 million worth of loss per month.

All across a population of only 25 million people.

Cybercrime trends over recent years have shown a correlation between cyberattacks and economic disruptions.

As Australia's cost of living crisis continues, Aussie families will likely keep coming across scams online.

You can protect yourself from becoming another statistic by creating a strong cybersecurity strategy for your home.

Cybersecurity basics to keep in mind at all times

Protecting your personal information is paramount to keeping yourself safe online.

This is why effective cybersecurity strategies use data and network encryption technologies like firewalls and VPNs.

These security measures can help prevent third parties from accessing your personal data online.

Families and business owners looking to conceal information like their IP address will find VPNs to be a tremendous asset to their cybersecurity.

Tools like password managers can also help keep your personal and business accounts secure, as will using security measures like multi-factor authentication.

Changing your passwords regularly is also effective, as is backing up your files and devices at routine intervals.

This can help reduce the risks of losing your data in the event of a cybersecurity breach.

Setting up automatic software updates for all your apps, can also help protect your devices in the long term.

But there is more to staying safe online than knowing what technologies and tools to use.

Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving discipline.

Because of this, device users across the globe are encouraged to read up on developments in the digital security industry.

This can help you stay on top of cybercrimes and hacking strategies as they evolve.

Keep referring to resources like the Australian Cyber Security Centre (or ACSC) website.

Industry blogs and forums that explore all the recent developments in the cyber scene are also useful here.

How do you report a cybercrime in Australia?

If you have suspicions that you've fallen victim to a cybercrime, you should first notify relevant authorities.

Thankfully, reporting cybercrimes in Australia is as easy as jumping onto the ACSC website.

You can also go directly to your local police station to report any cyber incident.

Cases reported to the police will receive both a Police Event Number as well as a ReportCyber incident (or CIRS) number.

These numbers will act as a reference to your case, allowing law enforcement officials to collate and file evidence or information that pertains to the incident or incidents that you're involved with.

You can even report suspicious activity to the ACSC or directly to the police.

Pre-emptive strikes can be far more impactful than reactive measures.

If authorities investigate and catch hackers before they have the opportunity to set their targets, you may end up saving your neighbours and coworkers from hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of financial losses.

At the end of the day, cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.

We can help protect one another by sharing knowledge, and joining the conversation surrounding how we live and work securely in digital environments.