By Warwick Brown
In today’s interconnected world, we must all play our part in safeguarding our digital lives. As October marks International Cyber Security Awareness Month, it is crucial to emphasise that cyber security is everyone’s responsibility, irrespective of age or occupation.
The Australian Government’s recent appointments of a Cyber Security Minister (Clare O’Neil) and a Cyber Coordinator (Air Marshall Darren Goldie AM CSC) underscore their recognition of the significant issue that impacts all Australians. They have taken proactive steps to address the escalating cyber threats through the development of a comprehensive Cyber Security strategy.
‘Cybersecurity is not just an issue for government – everybody is at risk,’ Vicki Brady, Telstra CEO, told The Australian Financial Review. ‘The global cyber threat environment has intensified.’
Businesses of all sizes are acutely aware of the increasing risk of cyber attacks, which carries significant accountability for directors. This awareness was bolstered by several high-profile incidents that have affected a substantial portion of our population in the past year. However, a pressing concern persists. Projections point to a potential skills gap of 17,600 cyber security professionals by 2026, and there have been no tangible adjustments to tertiary curriculums to tackle this critical issue.
‘Our people are the foundation of cyber security capability – education, skills, talent attraction and continuing professional development will be key to Australia’s cyber resilience’ said Mel Hupfeld, Expert Lead, Expert Advisory Board, Office of the Minister for Home Affairs.
So if Cyber Security is everyone’s responsibility, what can the residents of Knox do to help protect their privacy and financial security?
Three essential steps to stay protected:
1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Protect your online accounts by enabling MFA wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security, requiring a second form of verification, such as a text message, in addition to your strong password or passphrase.
2. Never give out personal details via unsolicited calls, emails or text messages:
Be cautious when receiving calls from unknown sources and avoid entering details into unknown websites or links clicked from unexpected emails. Cyber criminals often impersonate legitimate organisations to trick you into sharing personal information. Always verify the caller’s identity before disclosing any sensitive details. This is best done by going directly to the official website of the company (not via a link in an email) and establishing communication from there.
3. Stay informed through local resources: Knox Council has taken proactive steps to empower our community with cyber awareness resources. You can find valuable information by googling ‘Knox Cyber’ or visiting http://www.knox.vic.gov.au. These resources are especially beneficial for families, with a focus on eSafety for children.
The rise of Smishing: Protecting against deceptive text messages
A concerning trend in cybercrime is ‘smishing’, where cyber criminals attempt to deceive individuals through SMS or text messages. They often pose as reputable organisations to gain trust and exploit unsuspecting victims.
To combat smishing, Telstra has introduced a simple yet effective solution. If you receive a suspicious text message, forward it to ‘7226’ (spells ‘SCAM’ on your keypad). This action helps block potential smishing attempts and protects everyone from falling victim to such scams. Save ‘7226’ in your phone book to easily report suspicious messages and inform your friends and family about this safeguarding method.
Remember the mantra: Stop. Think. Respond. If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. By staying vigilant and adopting these practices, we can all contribute to a safer digital environment for our community.
Warwick Brown is the Group Infrastructure & Cyber Security Manager for a Global Energy Company