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One in six Australians became a cyber crime victim during the COVID-19 lockdown

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As if the COVID-19 lockdown wasn’t bad enough, new research from NortonLifeLock shows that one in six Australian have also been victims of cybercrime during this trying period.

The NortonLifeLock Digital Transformation Report has highlighted how dramatically our online behaviour has changed since the start of the pandemic.

Australians have been forced to shift their behaviour and are online even more for things like online shopping and entertainment.

And cyber criminals have used this to their advantage.

“It’s encouraging to see that the lockdown has made Aussies more vigilant and cautious when it comes to online safety,” says Mark Gorrie, NortonLifeLock Senior Director, Asia Pacific.

“However, the NortonLifeLock Digital Transformation Report shows there is still a lot of work to be done in improving our personal cyber security practices.

“With more of us being encouraged to work or study from home more, it’s important to put in place a proper cyber security plan or follow your company or school’s IT protocols to make sure your data is not in danger of being breached.

“For personal devices, such as phones, laptops, and tablets, it is crucial to have comprehensive security solutions that include not only anti-virus software but also protection against malware, ransomware, spyware and emerging cyber threats, password manager as well as a premium VPN for your online privacy installed. This will help ensure your data is protected.”

Despite becoming more vigilant online, Australians admit they are still taking risks online when it comes to their security with 29 per cent connecting to open, unsecured networks.

And with so many people working from home, two in five people said they’ve downloaded content or apps that were not 100 per cent secure with another 44 per cent admitting they’ve visited websites that may not have been secure.

But 67 per cent of Australian parents dealing with home schooling said monitoring their child’s online habits have during the COVID lockdown has become more difficult.

Most people have been forced to work from home since the coronavirus restrictions were introduced and naturally we had embrace video conferencing in place of face to face meetings.

Pre-pandemic, 41 per cent of users regularly used video conferencing tools but now that figure has leapt to more than 80 per cent.

The work and learn from home adjustment also required two out of three had to adapt and even buy new equipment to effectively work from home and set up home schooling.

But Australians have embraced working from home with four in five saying they would consider making it a more permanent arrangement with their employer.

One issue for employers has been workers using personal devices for work purposes during lockdown outside the protection of a corporate firewall.

Businesses must now consider providing protection for the personal devices of their employees in order to protect business data.

Lockdown has also increased our screen time with gaming seeing the biggest increase while sign ups to subscription services seeing a 35 per cent increase.

Australians have also turned to cashless payments and online shopping in droves.

Our use of digital payments like Apple Pay and PayPal have also increased dramatically and is now used by 44 per cent of Australians.

Online payments are also on the rise with 74 per cent of Australians now paying for groceries and utility bills online with a credit or debit card. This is a 12 per cent increase since the COVID lockdown.

Here are NortonLifeLock’s top tips to stay safe online and help protect your data:

– Keep your VPN turned on. Unencrypted connections may give cyber criminals a chance to snoop on data being sent and received by your device. Using a VPN helps ensure the data transferred to and from your account is encrypted and unreadable.

– Beware of COVID-19 themed phishing emails. Cyber criminals are exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to send fake emails with dangerous links to employees. Here’s how it works:  emails may appear to come from company officials, government or health bodies and might ask you to open a link to a new company policy related to the coronavirus. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, you are likely to download malware onto your device. Don’t click on the link. Instead, immediately report the phishing attempt to your employer and run a scan on your computer.

– Manage your passwords. Use two-step or multi-factor authentication wherever offered to help prevent unauthorised access to your online accounts. Always change your default passwords and regularly update them(every 3 months) to something strong and unique on your devices, services, and Wi-Fi networks.

– Only use trusted sites when providing your personal information. A good rule of thumb is to check the URL. If the site includes “https://,” then it’s a secure site. If the URL includes “http://,” — note the missing “s” — avoid entering sensitive information like your credit card data or Tax File Number.

– Don’t open email attachments or click links in emails from unknown sources. One of the most common ways people are exposed to malware and viruses is through emails disguised as being sent by someone you trust.

– Always keep your devices updated. Software updates contain important patches to fix security vulnerabilities. Cyber attackers can also target outdated devices which may not be running the most current security software.

– Back up your files regularly for extra protection in the event of a cyber security attack. If you need to wipe your device clean due to a cyber attack, it will help to have your files stored in a safe, separate place.