Original content provided by BDO Australia.
Safer Internet Day, held annually on 7 February, is a global awareness initiative that brings together organisations, families, and schools to help create safer online spaces.
Technology has evolved dramatically in the past two decades, and its benefits have substantially impacted society. These developments have also exposed us to many risks with real-world impacts, making online safety awareness even more important.
Modern internet technology provides new opportunities and challenges to our online experience. While the opportunities are endless, the challenges are growing in importance as we continue to address issues relating to information security, privacy and personal identity, and safe internet usage.
The internet may be a useful tool for connecting with people and discovering new things. However, just like any day-to-day activity in the real world, what we do online carries some level of risk.
Recognising potential risks and dangers on the internet can often be more difficult. This is because some internet users impersonate a trusted individual or organisation and threaten the victim or offer a potential reward to trick the victim into divulging personal information or downloading malicious software. Our internet usage is constantly increasing, with more and more information stored and transferred online. This exposes you to greater potential risks, making internet safety more crucial than ever.
Data and security breaches
An attacker may use a variety of tactics to entice victims with a scam or, in an indirect way, to deliver a payload to gain sensitive and private information from the victim. According to the preliminary findings from the 2022 BDO and AusCERT Cyber Security Survey, sending fraudulent emails and impersonating a trusted organisation or person online are the two most common types of cybercrime. It was identified that phishing attacks was the most common type of cyberattack, with a 23.5 per cent increase from 2021 to 2022.
Phishing attacks target all industries and individuals -from CEOs to students and online banking customers. Although it is crucial to have technical safeguards in place to block these emails, it is impossible to stop all phishing emails from making it to a recipients’ inbox. It is inevitable that some phishing emails will land in your inbox, given the number of messages being sent daily and the continually evolving tactics, techniques, and procedures used by cyber threat actors. However, to help minimise these attacks, we recommend you be proactive, aware, and trained on how to recognise and report phishing attempts and other sophisticated cyberattacks. Security and technology is there to support us, but you are the last line of defence, and you must not be complacent
Cyber awareness and training
Organisations and individuals need to invest in regular security awareness training to greatly improve their overall security posture. Anyone can be the target of a cyber attack, by revealing sensitive information or downloading malware. Given the critical role humans play in modern technology and as cyber attacks continue to increase in complexity and sophistication, it is important to remain vigilant and raise awareness about best practice. Educating people around you and within your organisation to identify cyber dangers and how to respond when a threat is found, significantly reduces dangerous security practices that invite hackers in.
As adults, it is imperative to take your own cyber safety seriously and set a good example for children and those around you. Regularly discussing internet safety and talking openly with your friends and family to find out how they are spending their time online is a good way to highlight the importance of safer internet practices. By emphasising the importance of cyber safety and increase awareness about the dangers of the internet, you will be better able to recognise and identify the potential threats.
Protect your information and stay safe online
Here are five simple, proactive ways to protect your information and stay safe online, not just this Safer Internet Day but every day:
- Ensure your privacy settings for your internet browser and social media accounts are enabled to protect your information online
- Create and use strong passwords that you should change regularly. There are several commercial password managers available today which you can use to help you managing your passwords
- Ensure your internet connection is secure and take care using free Wi-Fi networks as these networks are generally not secure
- Install antivirus software to routinely scan your computer and provide protection against malware and other malicious software you may be exposed to on the internet
- Take special care before opening attachments or clicking on links sent to you via email as this is one of the most common methods cyber criminals use to compromise your computer. Only open or download attachments if it is from a known and trusted source.
By doing these simple things, we can work towards making every day a Safer Internet Day.
To discuss your safer internet practices, including your information security awareness, please reach out to your BDO advisers.