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Top tips to protect yourself from cyber attacks

by Chloe Baird

With cyber attacks on the rise and more and more people working from home, cyber security has become a major talking point not just for politicians, but for every Australian with an internet connection.  

Cyber crime has reportedly increased by 330% since the start of 2020, compared to the same period last year. This could be contributed to the fact that so many of us are now working from home because of the pandemic.  

Many of us think we won’t become a target for cyber criminals. But cyber crime is costing the Australian economy around $29 billion a year, and cyber criminals aren’t just targeting large businesses. If you have an internet connection and a device, then you’re at risk, too.  

How can I protect myself from cyber attacks?

It all sounds pretty scary right now, doesn’t it? Malicious cyber activity is on the rise; hackers are getting bolder and ever-more resourceful; and there are reports of attacks being made against our own government and its agencies.  

But the good news is, there are ways you can outsmart the hackers and protect yourself from cyber crime. Here are some of the easiest and simplest ways you can protect yourself from cyber attacks.  

Learn how to protect yourself from cyber attacks.

1. Use strong, unique passwords

This is the most obvious and easiest way to protect yourself from cyber attacks. Using a weak password could see your account getting hacked. But using the same weak password for multiple accounts is just asking for trouble.  

Choose passwords that include both letters and numbers, and never use the same password for different sites and apps. If you know you’ll have trouble remembering all your passwords, then you can always look at investing in password manager software, like Dashlane or 1Password

2. Use two-step authentication

Two-step authentication is a simple way to foil hackers who are trying to access your account.  

Two-step authentication requires you to enter your password as well as something else, like a unique code that gets sent to your mobile number. This makes it difficult for cyber criminals to access your account even if they’ve somehow managed to get a hold of your password.   

Most websites and apps have the option for you to set up two-step authentication.

3. Invest in anti-virus software

Debates have long raged about whether free anti-virus software is just as good as paid anti-virus software.  

There are a few major differences between paid and free anti-virus software. Paid subscriptions often have much more robust support options, should you need help, and they usually allow you to personalise your security software. And, as you’d expect, paid options have more features. Free options will usually have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. 

But whether you are happy to use free software like Avast Free Anti-virus or Windows Defender, or pay a yearly fee for a paid subscription, is completely up to you. The main takeaway here is that any kind of anti-virus software is better than no anti-virus software.  

4. Keep software updated 

You know when you get those pop-up reminders on your computer that tell you there’s a software update you need to schedule? Don’t ignore them!  

Software updates get made for a lot of reasons. But one of the most important reasons is to stay ahead of new cyber threats.  

Cyber criminals find holes in software and exploit them. The job of a Cyber Security Specialist is to discover these holes and fix them. So the next time a cyber criminals tries to exploit that same weakness, they’ll find themselves out of luck. But your device will be safe and protected.

Do you know how to protect yourself online from cyber criminals?

5. Use a VPN when using public wi-fi

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows you to create a secured link to another network over the internet. A VPN can help keep you secure when connecting to a public network, like when you connect to the free wi-fi at your local café.  

The reason you should use a secure VPN when connecting to a public network is because you simply don’t know who could be watching that network. And if it’s an unfamiliar wi-fi network, how do you know it’s not being operated by someone with criminal intentions?  

Using a VPN can protect you and keep your data private.  

6. Keep informed and be proactive

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from cyber threats is to keep up to date on recent trends and attacks, and always be proactive. It’s not enough to know what to do if you are the victim of a cyber attack—you need to know what to do to prevent becoming a victim.  

For example, phishing and spearphishing attacks are becoming more prevalent and more ingenious. If you received a spearphishing email, would you be able to recognise it? 

7. Educate yourself on cyber security

Cyber security is a growing industry with huge demand right now. As hackers get more inventive, the need for qualified Cyber Security Specialists only continues to grow.  

Recently, the federal government revealed that it would be investing $1.35 billion to enhancing Australia’s cyber security capabilities. Roughly one third of this budget will be used to gather a specialised team of cyber security professionals. These cyber security experts will operate within the Australian Signals Directorate. This move will create more than 500 new Australian government cyber security jobs

If you’ve thought about beginning a career in cyber security, now’s the time to make your move.  

To help you get a foot in the door, you can study the Certified Cybersecurity Professional short course with Open Colleges. This course covers the foundations of cyber security, and will prepare you for an entry-level role as a Cyber Security Analyst.  

Ready to forge an exciting career in the cyber security industry? Enrol today and see where a job in cyber security could take you.  

Want more news and information on cyber security? 

To find out about what kind of skills are needed to land a job in cyber security, read our blogWhat skills do you need for a job in Cybersecurity? 

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