Six ways we make it easy for cyber crooks

 

People who post too much personal information online are now "easy targets" for sex offenders, cyber crooks and organised crime gangs, the Australian Federal Police has warned, amid an explosion in what the nation's main victim support service calls "plausible deception" attacks.

On platforms ranging from Gumtree and RSVP to LinkedIn and Instagram, Australians are giving away private details without thinking about the potentially devastating consequences, AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough said.

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough.

 

"You wouldn't walk up to a stranger and let them know your security clearance or that you work in payroll in your organisation,'' Ms Gough said.

"You wouldn't give a stranger your phone number, your date of birth or provide them with a photo album of your children.

"But too many Australians are essentially doing this by posting this information online and not turning on strict privacy controls," she said.

"Pause before you post. Ask yourself, 'Do you really need to reveal your personal details?'" she said.

The accompanying graphic, produced by The Daily Telegraph, is based on real posts by unwitting Sydneysiders who are sharing more than they should.

The original posts have been altered to protect identities.

Ms Gough said criminals are harvesting the information to assume identities and then steal victims' money, or take out credit cards in their names.

"People who are selling second-hand goods on websites and provide their mobile phone number can leave themselves vulnerable to phishing attacks," she said.

"Personal information is a valued commodity for criminals, who can sell this on to others in forums on the dark web.

"We also know child sex offenders have looked for victims by targeting single parents on dating websites," Ms Gough said.

IDcare managing director David Lacey said the number of people contacting the not-for-profit service after being deceived by scammers had risen to 50,000 in the past 12 months, compared to 15,000 two years earlier.

IDcare managing director David Lacey at a call centre that assists victims of cyberfraud and identity theft. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen
IDcare managing director David Lacey at a call centre that assists victims of cyberfraud and identity theft. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

"When we unpack what's happened, what's worked in the favour of the scammer is plausible deception," Professor Lacey said, where the fraudster's ruse appears legitimate - often because they are armed with personal information about the target.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said while she didn't want people to be alarmed, it was important to protect their privacy on the web.

 

"We might not realise how much personal information about us exists online, and we often don't think twice about what we share or post," Ms Inman Grant said.

"But the reality is this information can be collected or accessed leaving us open to risks such as social engineering, scams and even identity theft."

Australia's top spook ASIO boss Mike Burgess last week warned that foreign spies had increased their online activity because of the lack of opportunity for foreign travel.

Mr Burgess also said ASIO had uncovered a "nest of spies" that had "asked a public servant to provide information on security protocols at a major airport.

"They successfully cultivated and recruited an Australian Government security clearance holder who had access to sensitive details of defence technology," he said.

 

Originally published as Six ways we make it easy for cyber crooks

Australia's e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
Australia's e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant. Picture: Stuart McEvoy


Council reveals when Emu Park gallery will be complete

Premium Content Council reveals when Emu Park gallery will be complete

Livingstone Shire Council and a local MP are optimistic about the impact and value...

LETTERS: Causeway Lake victim of ‘years of neglect’

Premium Content LETTERS: Causeway Lake victim of ‘years of neglect’

Letters to the Editor and Harry Bruce’s cartoon.

LISTED: Players key to Rocky’s chances in Zone Carnival

Premium Content LISTED: Players key to Rocky’s chances in Zone Carnival

Rockhampton, Gladstone and Mackay teams to battle it out in six age groups this...