Cyber Attacks on the Increase in Australia

October 13th, 2022

Unfortunately, the number of cyber attacks are on the rise both in Australia and around the world. Not all of them are as high profile as the recent Optus cyber attack, but they cause a lot of grief for both business victims, their customers and individuals.    

October is cyber security awareness month, and we’re shedding light on the issue in this two-part series, offering tips to help keep your business safe.

How common are cyber attacks in Australia?

According to the most recent report from the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), they received 67,500 cybercrime reports in the 2020/2021 financial year. This was an increase of 13% over the previous financial year, and it continues an increasing trend as the world increasingly moves online. On average, there is a cyber attack on an Australian business or individual every 8 minutes.

What are the implications of business cyber attacks?

Business cyber attacks place the sensitive information of businesses at risk, as well as any personal information that they hold on their customers. Take Optus for example. Cyber hackers were able to access the names, addresses, date of birth, email addresses, driver’s licence numbers, Medicare numbers and passport numbers of almost 10 million Optus customers in Australia. This information can be used to commit fraud. It also causes enormous stress and inconvenience for all people affected by the cyber attack.

Businesses with an annual turnover of more than $3 million have a legal responsibility to ensure that any personal information that they collect on their customers is kept confidential and stored securely. Businesses of all sizes also face a loss of consumer trust if they are victims of cyber attacks and information on their customers is compromised. The hit to their reputation alone can be devastating to businesses.

What are the most common types of cyber attacks? 

The most common types of cyber attacks for businesses and individuals include:

  • Malware. This is IT jargon for ‘malicious software’. Hackers can infect your business or individual IT system with this software if you don’t have appropriate cyber security in place.
  • Ransomware. This is a specific type of malware where a cyber attacker infects your website and then demands a ransom for the malicious software to be removed.
  • DDOS attacks. DDOS is an acronym for Distributed Denial of Service. It’s where a cyber attacker sends a specific website a huge amount of requests to crash the system.
  • Phishing. This is where a cyber attacker sends an email, text or social media message to trick the recipient into revealing their sensitive personal information (such as passwords or bank account details).

How can you become more cyber security aware?

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month in Australia in 2022, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre, along with the Australian government are spreading resources to help keep Australians safe. The weekly themes include:

Week 1: Have you been hacked?

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not always obvious that you have been. You may have lost data without even being aware of it, but there are tools that can help you to identify if you have been hacked.

Week 2: Is your email secure?

Email is a common tool used by hackers who encourage you to click on malware links that can affect your computer. There are tools available to check the security of your email account.

Week 3: How do you act now and stay secure?

There are a range of tools you can use to enhance your cyber security, such as updating your IT software and devices regularly, installing up-to-date ant-virus software, using multi-factor authentication (i.e. two or more identity checks), regularly backing up your data and using secure (i.e. not obvious) passwords.

Find out more information on Cyber Security Awareness Month and check out part two of this cybersecurity series on how to protect yourself and your business from cyber attacks. 

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