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What's Cybercrime?

Electronic or Cybercrime involves the use of electronic devices, such as computers.

In line with modern technological advances, cybercrime is becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, with offenders hacking into computer systems or using stolen credit cards to carry out Internet transactions.

Businesses and individuals are equally at risk of cybercrime both at home and in the workplace.

The main areas involved in cybercrime are:

  • breaches of security and privacy
    This may include theft of equipment or data, unauthorised use of personal or sensitive information and viruses.
  • fraudulent transactions
    This may include the use of stolen credit cards or dealing with bogus companies.

Why does it happen?

Breaches in security and a lack of awareness are the fundamental causes of cybercrime. Many people unwittingly create opportunities for offenders by not keeping up to date with the ever-changing technology on the marketplace.

Sharing personal information, passwords and other data may also lead to serious lapses in security resulting in fraudulent activity.

What can you do?

Computer security
It's vital to secure your computer and allow password access only. The most important part of the computer is the hard drive, which stores all your data.  If you have important documents, these should be stored on an external hard-drive and only attached to the computer when you need to access them.  This way, if your computer security is compromised, your data is safe.

It's important to develop and implement appropriate system failure procedures, also known as data backup. This can be done easily by transferring your data to an external hard-drive or the main server if you have one.

Keep the serial numbers of all your computer equipment (separate from the hard drive) in a safe place.

Data Security
More and more businesses and individuals are taking advantage of computer technology as it becomes more widely available and affordable.

This has led to an increase of unauthorised use of data, such as confidential, personal or sensitive information and theft of data for commercial purposes.

It's important to safeguard your data at all times by ensuring:

  • a firewall is installed
  • a virus protection programme is installed and regularly updated
  • data files and listings are secured and shredded when they are no longer required
  • security violation reports are reviewed and investigated

Keep reviewing your data security, especially when a staff member leaves or there are staff changes in your organisation. Simple steps you can take include making sure:

  • only password access is allowed
  • only authorised employees are given access to data
  • data access is cancelled promptly when it is no longer required by a staff member or they leave

Passwords

Poor password security is a major cause of computer fraud. Store your passwords and other personal information on a separate storage device rather than on the computer's hard-drive.

  • Don't share identification numbers and passwords
  • Change passwords on a regular basis
  • When choosing a password, select a combination of capital letters, lower case and numbers

Internet Transactions

The use of the Internet for buying and selling goods, banking transactions and purchasing digital (non-tangible) products is increasing.

  • Always check your bank account transactions and balances and report discrepancies immediately to your financial institution.
  • Don't automatically check boxes before reading the contents of any statement or agreement.
  • Consider the use of a third party to hold payment in trust until you receive an item purchased via an online auction site.

At home

If you have a computer at home, the same security precautions apply as in the workplace. This includes installing virus software, a firewall and allowing password-only access.

Beware of children accessing adult sites, chatrooms or email from dubious sources.

  • Keep your computer in a family room so that you can monitor its use
  • Avoid opening unsolicited emails - they may contain viruses! Delete them immediately and do not respond to the inquirer.
  • Do not automatically divulge personal information to anyone who has solicited contact with you, without checking their credentials.

Be alert to the methods used by offenders to commit cybercrime and report any suspicious or fraudulent activity to Scamwatch at www.ScamWatch.gov.au​.


Did you know
by keeping original, offensive, menacing or harassing emails can help the police track down the offender. If you are a victim of cybercrime, you can report this via the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN).