If you feel like you’re receiving more and more spam calls, texts, and emails everyday, we’re here to let you know that you’re not alone.
There have been spikes in the rates of cyber attacks across the globe in recent years, and Australia is no exception here.
This influx of digital scams has prompted many Aussie citizens to start investing in their own cyber security.
But what is cyber security exactly, and what else do we need to know in order to keep ourselves safe online?
We’ll be answering these questions today, and providing a few more insights into the nature of cybercrime in Australia.
Read on to learn how to protect yourself and your devices as we move into the digital age.
Australian cybercrime statistics
First, let’s have a look at our cyberspace as a whole. In the ACSC’s 2022 Cyber Threat Report, the organisation recorded more than 76,000 cyber crimes over the past financial year.
This was a 13 per cent increase from numbers recorded over 2021.
Online fraud and shopping scams were the most common forms of cyber attacks recorded during 2022, followed closely behind by bank scams.
These three forms of attack accounted for 54 per cent of all recorded cases of cyber attacks in Australia from July 2021 to June 2022.
Total reported losses culminating from cybercrimes in Australia added up to a whopping $98 million AUD.
This figure includes all reports of cybercrimes filed by both businesses and consumers.
Of Australian businesses, medium-sized enterprises (organisations with 20 to 199 employees) were hit the hardest, with average reported losses of $88,407.
On average, the ACSC received a report of a cybercrime every seven minutes across the year 2022.
This figure includes the highly publicised corporate data breaches experienced in Australia over that financial year, including the Optus and Medibank data breach.
Where did this wave of cybercrime begin?
In their 2022 report, the ACSC recorded that Russian malware was deployed in Ukraine as a method of destabilising the region.
But Russia’s malware and DDoS attacks didn’t just hold a detrimental impact on the Ukrainian economy.
The malware affected other European nations and posed a real risk to networks across the globe as well.
The ACSC allocated billions of dollars worth of resources towards protecting digital assets used by Australian government offices and the digital infrastructure supporting international supply chains.
These measures were taken to protect Australia from cyber adversaries and to keep the Australian economy free from any digital disruptions that may have been caused by the ongoing conflict.
But our influx in phishing attacks and other cybercrimes predates the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Australia saw a substantial spike in cases of cybercrime from March 2020 onwards as a direct result of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Although scams and cyber threats were still prevalent prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, there’s no denying that the pandemic was a catalyst for criminal activity online.
And when you think about it, this is a natural turn of events.
The lockdowns saw millions of Australians working from the comfort of home.
But we stayed online even after work hours, mainly because there was little else to keep us occupied.
This created a potent opportunity for hackers, whose earning potential may have been limited by COVID-19 restrictions.
Virtually overnight, the internet transformed into a highly populated space filled with people of all demographics – including an older generation of Australians who had seldom logged on before.
The issue is that cybercriminals are most likely to prey on unsuspecting users.
And as baby boomers didn’t grow up with internet technology, unlike those from Generation X and below, they are more at risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. This brings us to the importance of cyber security education.
How to identify threats online
With more of us using the internet in our daily lives than ever before, it’s become imperative for Australian citizens to learn how to keep themselves safe online.
Understanding the threats that await us online is just one element of cyber preparedness.
Cyber security best practices must also be taught in our schools, tertiary institutions, and workplaces.
The ACSC also advocates for this investment in cyber education in the conclusion of their Cyber Threat Report.
Many Australian industries are already responding to this call to action by developing cyber security awareness programs for their staff.
A good example here is the Australian Digital Health Agency’s own Cyber Security Awareness eLearning course.
The resource outlines how Australian healthcare workers can ensure digitised health records and other personal patient and clinic information is kept secure online.
Alongside introducing educational cyber security resources and learning opportunities into our everyday lives, Australians also have a responsibility to educate themselves.
Thankfully, identifying potential threats online is a lot easier than you might think.
Here are just some of the tell-tale signs of a potential cyber threat:
- Messages/texts/emails from dubious sources
- Popup windows with offers that are ‘too good to be true’
- Unusual computer behaviours (programs running unprompted or any unknown software downloads)
- Slower than normal computer speeds
- Login alerts from a different country/region/device
- Suspicious phone calls or text messages requesting your private information
- Suspicious deletion of emails, data, or browser activity
- Low-resolution images on websites, ads, or in emails
- Grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in any emails/messages/texts
Keep an eye out for any of these signs to help prevent you from becoming yet another statistic in Australia’s sea of cybercrimes.
Regardless of whether you’re a secondary school-aged student or a working professional, cyber is an equally important concern for all Aussie web users.
Australians of all generations should be getting to grips with cyber security as a concept and understanding what security measures are available to them.
Equipping yourself with the right knowledge is key to maintaining protection against cyber threats.
So stay on top of your tech news, reassess your security strategies on a routine basis, and keep an eye out for any of the tell-tale signs of a cyber attack.
By staying vigilant and practicing good digital literacy online, you can help keep your devices and your wider household, workplace, and school safe from the ever-present threat of cyber attacks.