Cybercrime Expert Shares Privacy Protection Tips

19 May 2016
It’s Privacy Awareness Week (15-21 May) and Australians are being urged to be careful with their credit card details and personal information.

A cybercrime expert from the University of Canberra is reminding Australians to show proper care and diligence with their credit card details, also warning that rapid changes in technology pose a continual risk to consumer privacy.

Nigel Phair, director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra, said that with the increasing use of online transactions over the last two or three years, chances are we all have a digital footprint.

“Many of us are probably not really aware of how large that footprint is,” he said.

“It’s created or increased each time we do anything online, from social media interactions, internet searches, browsing the web, buying or selling online and other online activity.”

How much are your personal details worth?

Mr Phair said customer loyalty programs are now generating more information about customers than businesses know what to do with.

“Customers are entitled to know what their data is being used for,” he said.

“I would recommend Australians treat their personal details the same way they do their credit card number.

“We should be certain who we’re giving it to, why we’re handing it over, and that the people on the other end are playing by the rules with what they do with it.”

Q&A with Nigel Phair – Cybercrime Expert, University of Canberra

This week, CANSTAR caught up with Mr Phair for a Q&A.

Q: What is our “digital footprint” and how might it be exploited by criminals?

A: Our digital footprint continues to grow with the continued uptake of mobile devices. Any activity we traditionally did on a ‘desktop’ can now be done on a mobile or ‘smart’ device. The difference being users are usually always logged-on to social media and the devices have geo-location capability, further identifying more details than usual about the user.  Cyber criminals will continue to exploit users and their personal data.

Q: What sort of measures could people take to ensure their credit card details are protected?

A: Consumers need to use a range of precautions to protect their financial information whether online or offline.  Specifically for credit cards, consumer should be wary when they shop not to let their card out of their sight, shield their PIN when entering into a POS device, never divulge your PIN to others and never write it on the card, keep track of your purchases and regularly review your statements.

Q: How has the rise of contactless payments affected our credit card security?

A: Contactless payments are an efficient and convenient way to purchase goods and services. Consumer uptake of this innovative technology has been strong and positive, providing benefits for merchants and customers.  As the volume of transactions rapidly grows, the level of fraud, as a percentage of this growth continues to decrease.

Q: How prevalent is cybercrime in Australia?

A: The first question is to determine the definition of cybercrime – everyone has their own ideas of how broad this should be.  Secondly, due to the under-reported nature of online crimes, for example there is nothing compelling Australian organisations to report a data breach, we do not have accurate figures. Many IT security vendors have come up with figures but these are extremely rubbery.  Needless to say cybercrime in all its permutations continues to affect many Australians in their online lives and activities.

Q: What advice do you have for Australian online shoppers?

A: Cards need to be treated like cash, with the same level of common sense in their use and storage. Some tips for consumers to reduce the likelihood of fraud include:

  • Safeguard the card and the wallet/purse it is stored in at all times.
  • Never leave the purse or wallet unattended in public.
  • Notify the issuing bank immediately if the wallet/purse is stolen.
  • Make sure the mail box where cards and statements are posted is secure and always locked.

Nigel Phair is the Director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra and founder of law enforcement app Odin Case Management. He has published two acclaimed books on the international impact of cybercrime and provides cyber security advice to boards and executives.

What is Privacy Awareness Week?

Running from the 15th till the 21st of May 2016, Privacy Awareness Week is an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) forum. This event serves to raise awareness of privacy issues and promote the importance of protecting personal information.

For more information about Privacy Awareness Week and what’s happening for it, visit PAW Website and join the conversation by following @OAICgov or #2016PAW on twitter.

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