In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s never been more important to secure your devices.
This is even more prevalent given the number of employees and organisations shifting to remote or hybrid working.
Those servicing Australia’s homebuyers and sellers; conveyancers, lawyers, bank representatives and real estate agents alike are responsible for highly sensitive, critical data.
And whether it’s in the workplace or in your day-to-day, it’s vital that you ensure your mobile phone, laptop or computer are protected.
Unfortunately, as the Australian Cyber Security Centre shares in the below real-life scenarios, cyber-criminals can strike everyday citizens in a myriad of ways.
Case study #1
A Victorian woman had her laptop stolen in a home robbery. The laptop was unlocked, giving criminals easy access to her personal information such as IDs. A few months later, she realised that her personal information had been used to fraudulently lodge a tax return and COVID disaster payments in her name.
Case study #2
A woman in Western Australia lost her phone, which was unlocked. She kept all her passwords in a “notes” app on her phone, giving criminals easy access to her online accounts. She also had photos on her phone of her driver’s license. The phone was returned a few hours later, but she did not realise until the next day that they had transferred all of her money to a cryptocurrency website. She lost almost $4000.
Case study #3
A New South Wales man received a new debit card from his bank. He thought this was strange as his current card did not expire for another year. He received further letters from his bank, explaining that a new account had been opened in his name. After speaking with the bank, he discovered that the account had been opened using his online banking details and then closed a week later. Two weeks earlier, the man had upgraded to a new phone and the old one had been sold. He had forgotten to delete the personal information from his phone, which contained passwords and photos of all his ID documents. This information made it easy for criminals to access his accounts and personal information.
Unfortunately, the above instances highlight how cyber-criminals can target ordinary Australians. With the finances involved in property transactions, it’s understandable to see why parties involved in these exchanges are prime targets.
The ACSC has provided the following tips in response:
- Portable devices should be locked with passphrase, password, PIN or biometrics.
- Encrypt your portable device. Even though it may be protected with a strong, unique passphrase, cybercriminals may still be able to access the hard drive and access your information.
- Ensure your portable device is set to automatically lock after a short time of inactivity, such as 5 minutes.
- Treat your portable device like your wallet. Keep it safe or with you at all times.
- Store and handle your passphrases carefully to avoid being compromised.
- Using a password manager to save your passphrases will free you of the burden of remembering which passphrase goes where.
- Ensure you thoroughly remove sensitive and personal information from your portable devices before selling or disposing of them.
Cyber-criminals can strike anytime and anywhere – but by staying vigilant, you can remain safe.
If you believe that you may be a victim of cyber-crime and would like to report a cyber incident, or are just looking for advice, visit cyber.gov.au or call their hotline on 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371) operating day and night, seven days a week.
PEXA Customers can learn more on device security by visiting our Computer Security Help Centre article.