Be Alert: Cyber Crime On The Rise

Everyone who is online or uses a mobile phone is vulnerable to cybercrime. This phone is owned by a resident from Port Stephens who has received a call from Somalia where they have no connection. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

THE pandemic has seen Australians isolated, lonely and vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Cybercriminals are targeting Australians at an unprecedented level to steal sensitive information and money, including through business email compromise and ransomware attacks.

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Launching the next stage of the ‘Act Now Stay Secure’ cyber security campaign, Assistant Minister for Defence, the Hon Andrew Hastie MP, said the consequences of cybercrime can be catastrophic for businesses, families, and individuals.

“In the 12 months to 30 June this year, around 4,600 reports of business email compromise have been made to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

“Of these, around a third reported financial losses totalling approximately $81 million,” Assistant Minister Hastie said.

“Email is a very common tool for the delivery of ransomware attacks, with phishing messages sent to potential victims containing malicious links or attachments.

“Compromised email accounts can also be used by cybercriminals to send fraudulent emails to the business’ customers, or steal sensitive information leading to the victim being blackmailed.”

Business email compromise occurs when criminals exploit trust by impersonating employees or companies through email to fraudulently obtain money or goods.

“A business or individual who has their email account compromised or targeted by scammers and cybercriminals could suffer catastrophic financial losses through scams or ransomware.

“There are things everyone can and should be doing to protect themselves and their email accounts – use complex passwords and multifactor authentication, back up your data and keep a copy off-line, and don’t click on suspicious links.

“As part of the ‘Act Now Stay Secure’ campaign, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has released new email security guides to help prevent email compromise, and advice to help victims recover from an email attack,” Assistant Minister Hastie said.

“There are also easy step-by-step guides on securing your email accounts, to help people protect themselves.”

The Email Prevention and Protection and Emergency Response guides, Step-by-Step guides, and other advice and information are available at cyber.gov.au.

A number of different threats use email for their success, including malware, phishing and different types of scams.
Social engineering makes it harder to spot malicious emails.

Cybercriminals use a technique called ‘social engineering’ as a way of enticing and manipulating people.

They use tricks to lower your natural defences against deception, for example by pretending to be someone you trust, or by making a highly attractive offer.

Cybercriminals are putting more time, effort and money towards researching targets to learn names, titles, responsibilities, and any personal information they can find.

Afterwards, they usually call or send an email with a made up but believable story designed to convince the person to give them certain information.

Social media accounts provide rich information such as events, conferences and travel destinations, which can be used to make an approach seem real and accurate.

You should consider what personal information you share online.

If you have been a victim of cybercrime, please report it through ReportCyber.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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