Cyber Safety

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Despite our best efforts and intentions, our digital lives may put us in harm’s way. Learning how to stay safe online is about establishing a set of behaviors that provide you with protection from common threats.

Most importantly, you don’t have to be a computer expert to keep safe online.

Keep a clean machine

As internet users, we are continually bombarded with request to install *free* applications, web browsers or things that will speed up our computer. All promising to deliver an enhanced user experience.

Some of these applications are legitimate and do enhance our computing experience. However, a majority are malicious and while offering some functionality, also have a malicious intent and install second and third party components.

The second and third party components are what we call backdoors and are often then used to download malware that results in a range of un-intended consequences for you and other users of JCU’s computer systems.

Most application installations are like “whack-a-mole” where users are on auto-pilot and click ‘Next’, ‘Next’ ‘Next’.

Impatience is our undoing and we are often not alert to the installation of the other components.

So here is some advice to assist you keeping a clean machine:

  • If you didn’t go looking for the application, don’t install it.
  • If you installed and application, make sure you update it.
  • If you no longer need an application, uninstall it.

Protect your passwords

Password are the primary mechanism used by most systems and online services to validate the digital identity.

Unfortunately, there are individuals and organisations who go to considerable lengths in attempting to steal our identities and passwords.

We are able to stay ahead by taking simple steps to protect our identity, and securing our passwords is an excellent practice.

Here are three simple steps to good password hygiene:

  1. Invest in some password management software. This software can help you manage your online passwords in one place. It also means that you don’t have to remember every password and can therefore make them more complex. There are commercial and free solutions in the marketplace.
  1. Use a different complex password for each service.
  1. Change your passwords to important services at least every year.

Phishing

Phishing is a relatively new phenomenon that commonly uses websites and email to steal confidential information such as credit card numbers, passwords and other information that can be used for financial gain.

Typical phishing attempts involves receiving an email on a particular topic of importance or interest such as wining a prize, taxation department refund, topical news story on a disaster or threat or to confirm financial information.

The email will often ask for some action to be performed, such as clicking on a link or providing some information.

Here are some tips for identifying phishing emails

  • Spammers may impersonate the sender making the recipient think that the original email was from a legitimate source. This could even be a JCU logo.
  • The subject usually requests some action.
  • There is usually an attachment or a link.
  • The purpose of the email is to entice the reader to client on the web link and login or provider other personal information.

If you are in doubt, report the email to your services provider.

Be aware of geotagging

Geotagging helps add a location to your digital photographs, video, websites or even news feeds.

In devices like iPhones and other smartphones, additional information is automatically captured, such as longitude and latitude of where the image was taken. Using particular tools and programs, a person determined to find out this type of information can decipher any geotagged image and retrieve the information for their own purposes.

For example, sharing a photo taken at your house, may advertise the address of your house.

Most smartphones have the geotagging feature automatically enabled, so you need to put in the effort to prevent it from doing this.

It’s recommended that you disable the geotagging ability and enable it again when you make a conscious decision to use it; it’s far better to opt in than to try to remember to opt out.

Digital Safety Tips

  • Back up your data and protect your information from un-expected events.
  • Keep all of your software current with automatic updating. These updates can help keep viruses and malware out of your computer.
  • Your password is your passport to your digital identities, keep them safe!
  • You wouldn’t share your toothbrush, so don’t share your password
  • Scammers will often try to trick you into revealing your password with a spoof email urgently suggesting there is a problem with your account. Don’t fall for it.
  • Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit who you share information with.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Digital Safety Activity

If you have a smartphone, check if you have geotagging enabled.

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