Like many other countries, cybercrime has hit Australia hard over the last few years. In 2022 alone, the ACSC reported that it had received more than 76,000 cybercrime reports. This figure marks a nearly 13% increase from 2021, and Queensland and Victoria had the highest rate of reported cybercrime. As such, with this issue on the rise in Australia, people must know how to protect themselves online and which types of cybercrime are the most prevalent in the country.
Australia’s Top Cybercrime Attacks
1) Internet Spying
It’s easy to want to take advantage of public Wi-Fi, but this is a common way for hackers to access your data and steal your information, potentially leading to identity theft, which 159,600 people in Australia experienced in 2022. However, you can use technologies like a VPN to hide your online activity from cybercriminals. A VPN is short for a “Virtual Private Network,” and it creates a private and protected network connection when you’re using public networks. That’s because, as ExpressVPN reports, a VPN will encrypt your web traffic and won’t log any activity or connections. In Australia, using a VPN will also make your online activity invisible to your internet service provider (ISP). Your ISP is inevitably recording your browsing data and retaining your metadata since it is required of telecoms to do so by Australian law. Still, using a VPN gives you a way to get around this.
Sometimes, however, cybercrime is a little more complicated than internet spying, which is why phishing is becoming one of Australia’s most popular forms of cybercrime attacks. In fact, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch reported that phishing attacks were responsible for a financial loss of over $24.6 million in Australia in 2022. Phishing involves cybercriminals sending emails that mimic those from a legitimate organisation, such as a government agency, to trick people into giving away money or personal or financial information.
Even though phishing attacks are becoming more intelligent and thus increasingly more challenging to recognise, there are ways to avoid falling victim. Most importantly, never click unsolicited emails that ask for money or your information. Always remember that banks will usually never ask for this information over email, so be wary of this. Further, avoid clicking on attachments that download to your computer from unsolicited emails.
Ransomware is another popular type of malware infecting Australia. With a ransomware attack, cybercriminals will access someone’s device and data and then lock them out of their device. If the individual isn’t locked out of their device, their information may still be stolen or deleted. These hackers will then extort the individual and demand a ransom in exchange. Like phishing attacks, the primary way to protect yourself against ransomware attacks is to never click on unsolicited or unusual links, particularly from unknown websites or in spam messages.
Cybercrime is rising worldwide, but in Australia, some cybersecurity threats have higher precedence than others, including identity theft, phishing, and ransomware attacks. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these attacks, such as using a VPN and never clicking on unsolicited links from accounts or websites you aren’t familiar with.