Concerned by the Optus data breach? Here’s how to protect against online scams and hacks
Here’s what you need to know.
Common scams to watch out for: From phishing to remote access
“Scammers will use the data breach and target people in any way that they can. This means you will likely notice an increased number of phishing emails, phone calls, and SMS or social media messages,” Scamwatch warns.
Phishing scams, where scammers send a text message or email masquerading as a legitimate business in an attempt to extract identity or financial information, were the most common, with more than 44,000 reports in 2022 so far.
Source: SBS News
“Identity theft is a huge problem in Australia,” Ms Rickard said.
“Remote access scams (also known as technical support scams) usually involve scammers contacting people over the phone to get access to their computers and to steal their money,” the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) warns.
Source: SBS News
Investment scams took the biggest financial toll on victims, resulting in more than $267 million reported lost so far this year.
Dating and romance scams were the next most costly, with more than $23 million lost, followed by remote access scams, false billing and phishing scams.
How to protect yourself online
According to the ACSC, the top steps internet users can take to protect themselves from hacks and scams are:
- Turning on automatic software updates
- Regularly backing up your devices
- Switching on (a system where users are only granted access to an account after providing multiple pieces of evidence).
- Using strong rather than passwords
- Securing mobile devices and watching out for cyber scams
“It really is every man or woman for themselves. We’ve all got to step up because the systems are not protecting us. Therefore we have to protect ourselves.
Why talking about scams and asking for help is key
Digital literacy varies across the community, and Mr Williams said “vulnerable consumer cohorts” who may “not be as digitally literate as others” should not be afraid to ask for help.
“And we find that a lot of consumers, whether they’re senior, whether they are of any other cohort as well, a lot of people find that there’s a stigma of being scammed, but the best thing to do is speak up and ask for help and get it fixed as quickly as possible.”
Resources and assistance
- The ACCC’s Scamwatch website provides information on how to recognise, avoid and report scams:
- IDCare supports victims of identity theft, including those affected by the Optus data breach:
- The Australian Cyber Security Centre provides information on how to protect yourself online at:
- The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association provides information on digital training and support for older Australians:
- The Good Things Foundation supports “socially excluded people to improve their lives through digital”: