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Norton finds we are our own worst enemy online while hackers hone their skills

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The rate of cybercrime is still climbing with news that hackers are getting better while consumers are remaining complacent and often contributing to their own online vulnerability.

Norton has just released its Cyber Security Insights Report which found that Australians who had been touched by cybercrime even within the past year would often not change their ways and continue their unsafe behavior.

While secure passwords are important, the study revealed one in four Australians (24 per cent) were likely to share their passwords.

On the home front, Australians with connected smart devices have at least one that’s unprotected and vulnerable to ransomware, malware and phishing attacks.

Across Australia, 76 per cent of customers know they should be actively protecting their information online but are still sharing passwords and throwing caution to the wind.

“Our findings show that people are growing increasingly aware of the need to protect their personal information online, but aren’t motivated to take adequate precautions to stay safe,” said Mark Shaw, Technology Strategist, Symantec.

“While consumers remain complacent, hackers are refining their skills and adapting their scams to further take advantage of people, making the need for consumers to take some action increasingly important.”

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Meanwhile 41 per cent of Australians know they have enough connected devices to be a target for hackers.

At the same time hackers are increasing their abilities and are targeting social media and financial accounts and are on track to learn how to hack connected home devices.

Millenials, some of the biggest users of connected products, are also surprisingly the most complacent when it comes to online security habits and they are happy to share passwords (40 per cent) so it’s no surprise that a massive 36 per cent have experienced some form of cybercrime in the past year.

Most Australians (82 per cent) never use a VPN (virtual private network) to connect to public wi-fi which also can expose your details to a hacker, including passwords, on an open network.

So, what can we do to stay safe online? Here are Norton’s tips.

– Avoid password promiscuity: Protect your accounts with strong, unique passwords that use a combination of at least 10 upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers to help keep the bad guys at bay.

Don’t go on a phishing expedition: Think twice before opening unsolicited messages or attachments, particularly from people you don’t know, or clicking on random links. The message may be from a cybercriminal who has compromised your friend or family member’s email or social media accounts.

– Don’t keep a (dis)connected home: When installing a new network-connected device, such as a router or smart thermostat, remember to change the default password. If you don’t plan on using the Internet feature(s), such as with smart appliances, disable or protect remote access when not needed. Also, protect your wireless connections with strong Wi-Fi encryption so no one can easily view the data traveling between your devices.

– Be in control when online: Entrust your devices to security software to help protect you against the latest threats. Protect all your devices with a robust, multi-platform solution, like Norton Security Premium.

– Know the ins and out of public Wi-Fi networks: Accessing personal information on unprotected public Wi-Fi is like broadcasting your entire screen on TV – everything you do on a website or through an app, could potentially be exposed. Avoid anything that involves sharing your personal information (paying a bill online, logging in to social media accounts, paying for anything with a credit card, etc.).