Protecting your devices against cyber criminals

With the rise of cybercrime, staying safe online is no longer a matter of simply installing anti-virus software on your PC or laptop. Increasingly, other personal devices such as smartphones and tablets are being targeted.

The Australia Signals Directorate (ASD) together with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) provide some security tips for personal devices.

 

Use legitimate and up to date software

  • When purchasing a device, select one that is currently supported by a vendor that has a proven track record of providing timely updates
  • Ensure that devices are configured to automatically apply updates, which resolve security problems and add additional security features
  • Only use legitimate applications (e.g. from a trusted app store)

 

Back up important files

  • Save all important files to an external storage device or online storage service
  • Ensure storage devices are not left connected to personal devices after important files have been backed up

 

Prepare for lost or stolen devices

  • Securely store devices and avoid leaving them unattended
  • If devices support a ‘find my device’ function or encryption capabilities, these measures can provide additional security in the event of it being lost or stolen

 

Do not engage in unsolicited communications

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited SMS, instant messages and emails, and do not click links
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, and do not follow instructions from someone who rings to tell you your personal device has technical problems

 

Use antivirus software

  • Use antivirus software from a reputable vendor for personal devices and keep it up-to-date

 

Use a screen lock

  • Ensure use of a strong password and avoid swipe or gesture-based passwords which can be easy to guess
  • If personal devices support biometric identification (such as a fingerprint scan) this can provide a convenient and secure way to unlock a device

 

Use different passwords for different websites and apps

  • If using the same password across multiple websites/apps, compromise of one can lead to compromise of the others
  • Especially important for those websites or apps storing credit card details or personal information
  • The use of 2-step verification can add an additional layer of security
  • Don’t use ‘remember my password’ functionality within your web browser

 

Avoid free wireless networks

  • Free public WiFi is insecure and can put your device and sensitive information at risk
  • If the use of free WiFi is unavoidable, avoid undertaking sensitive activities
  • The use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can add an additional layer of security

 

Monitor your online presence

  • Check social media privacy settings
  • Limit personal information that is put online by you or others such as family and friends, which could increase the risk of a range of threats from receiving spam emails to identity theft

 

Further information

The joint ASD / ACSC communication provides links to further information on the:

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in cases involving cyber-enabled crime.

Contact us if you require assistance.