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Staying safe from cybercrime: steps to improve your online security

Staying safe from cybercrime: steps to improve your online security

Steps to help you stay safe online and avoid scams.

Install the latest updates for your device, use strong passwords, be aware of phishing scams and know the dangers of using public Wi-Fi.

Those are the four key messages of Stay Smart Online Week, which this year is focusing on cybercrime – a threat to which more than 6 million Australian adults fell victim in 2017, according to software provider Norton.

Here we take a look at the steps you can take to ensure you don’t become an easy target for cyber criminals.

1. Keep your software and apps up to date

Updating your software is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself online, yet 80% of Android users and 23% of iOS users haven’t installed the latest software updates, according to a Symantec report from April.

Updates include bug fixes and address identified security vulnerabilities, so hackers can’t exploit them, which is why it’s so important to install them as soon as they become available. One easy method for keeping up to date is setting your system preferences to update your software automatically.

If you use the CommBank app, you can check your security settings and enable automatic updates by:

  • Clicking the three horizontal bars on the top left of the screen to open the menu
  • Scrolling down and clicking ‘Settings & security’
  • Clicking ‘App version’ for instructions on how to enable auto-updates

2. Use strong, unique passwords with extra protection

We all know the importance of a strong password, but in practice few are following the advice. More than 50% of people re-use passwords across all accounts, according to research from Virginia Tech, making them vulnerable to a breach.

Creating strong, long passwords or creating a ‘passphrase’ that strings words together to tell a story only you know (for example, ‘MyGoatHasAPhD’), and making each one unique across your accounts safeguards against password reuse attacks. In other words, if there is a data breach and your credentials are stolen from one service provider, if you’ve used the same or even a similar password then criminals may be able to easily access more of your services.

You can add an extra layer of defence with two-factor authentication. This is a way to confirm your identity by requiring something additional to a password and username, such as a unique verification code that is sent to you by a different means. At CommBank, this takes the form of NetCode SMS or a push notification.    

You can update your NetBank password by:

  • Logging on to NetBank
  • Selecting ‘Settings’ from the navigation bar
  • Selecting ‘NetBank password’ from the ‘Online banking security’ section
  • If you need to update your mobile number for NetCode, you can call us on 13 2221

3. Stay alert to phishing scams

Phishing attacks can take the form of emails, SMS or social media notifications designed to trick you into giving away your online banking details, credit card information or personal data.

If you see a suspicious message, never click a link or open an attachment.

One option if you’re unsure about an email is to verify the sender by giving them a call or looking them up through their official channels.

CommBank will never send you a message asking you to confirm, update or disclose your personal or banking information.

If you’re a CommBank customer and you’ve received a suspicious email, you can help other customers by forwarding this to so we can take action against any fake sites.

If you’re a CommBank customer and think you may have accidentally given details to a phishing scam, you should call us straight away on 13 2221.

4. Stay safe on public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi isn’t always safe and may enable cybercriminals to see your information. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, Stay Smart Online advises to:

  • Turn off auto-connects
  • Avoid online shopping or banking on networks you aren’t familiar with

When deciding whether to connect to a public Wi-Fi connection, you should consider whether the connection requires a password to protect your traffic, whether you trust the organisation and the sensitivity of what you’re planning to do online.

For more information on staying safe online, check out our online tips and the Stay Smart Online site.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.