Cybersecurity expert tells why hackers love Australians


Every day it seems we hear of a new scam or data breach. Well, you are not imagining it, Australia is the fifth most hacked country in the world, according to a cybersecurity expert.

Speaking at the 2023 Tax Summit in Melbourne, cybersecurity expert Chris Watson urged institutions and their consumers to do more to protect themselves.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says more than $3.2 billion has been lost to scams in Australia in 2023 with 15 attacks per minute.

“Cybercrimes are real, they are happening, and they will affect you at some point, if they haven’t already,” Mr Watson says.

“We’re the most targeted country in the world. 

“Cybercrime is affecting businesses up and down the country.”

Mr Watson says that while hacking can cause significant financial damage, most hackers are not particularly sophisticated. 

Three steps

He said most hackers had a three-step method: 

1. Identifying who you are. 

2. Figuring out how to get a foothold in your network.

3. Deciding what they want to steal from you.

Mr Watson says one of the biggest problems is people who are lazy with their passwords.

“The most common password is still ‘password,’” he says. 

“The second most popular password is ‘password1234’. We still haven’t gotten around to improving our password hygiene. 

“Go out there and educate yourselves around passwords, whether you use password managers, passphrases, whatever. Just improve. 

Switch up your password

“Don’t use your favourite football team. Don’t use ‘password’,” he says.

“The basic exercise of improving passwords will go far in improving cybersecurity both as individuals when we’re working from home or when we’re in the workplace.”

Mr Watson says everyone should be careful about their online activity.

“Get over the notion that you don’t have anything that someone would want to steal – because you do,” he says.

“Everyone in this world has what these criminals are after – data. 

“That’s the names, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers and bank details.”

Mr Watson says we must be aware of phishing and spearphishing tactics.

“Phishing and spearphishing are common techniques that criminals use to get into our systems that involve sending emails or calling people to get information,” he says.

Improve your cybersecurity

“It was exacerbated by COVID, with so many people working from home. This flexible working created a number of vulnerabilities that didn’t exist before.” 

Mr Watson says there are three easy steps you can take to improve your cybersecurity.

1. Improve your password hygiene.

2. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) and back up your systems.

3. Educate yourself about scams.

For more support, government website Scamwatch has several resources for consumers to protect themselves from scams and advice on what to do if you believe you have been scammed. 

It also outlines common types of scams and new scams that are doing the rounds. 

Do you regularly change your passwords? Have you been scammed? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Banks customers a step closer to protection from scams?

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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