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Cyber safety: "From the lounge room to the board room"

Online safety at work can start at home, and vice-versa.

I don’t know about you, but I find there’s something invigorating about this time of year.

It's the perfect time to clean, purge, and organise your life. If the idea of vacuuming behind the lounge doesn’t fill you with much joy, why not start with a clean-up of your digital life?

As Stay Smart Online week rolls around for another year on October 10th (appropriately themed “From the lounge room to the board room”) what better time to spring clean your security and protect your information, whether that information is related to work or play?

To help you get started, the Government (in partnership with industry and nbn) has published a new ‘how to’ guide for individuals, complimenting the nifty small business offering from last year.

Both guides contain easy to follow tips that you can implement at work, faster than you can say “honey, I’m home!” and get stuck into protecting your family devices.

The work-life balance

You see, good online security practices on the lounge at home are easily replicated when you clock on for the working week – and so they should be.

With the surge in popularity of flexible working arrangements, it’s quite possible that your work laptop connects to your home network, before connecting again to the company intranet come Monday morning.

So herein lies the double whammy; an infection on a home device can affect the privacy and integrity of your work data, and vice versa. And when cyber-crime is estimated to cost Australians over $1billion per year, it’s quite the whammy indeed.

It gets more complicated, when considering the myriad objects (call them ‘things’) that can connect over the internet to make up the “Internet of Things” (or IoT as they say in the ‘biz’).

For the 84% of online small and medium businesses, the IoT includes just about anything connected together: printers, projectors, smart phones, tablets – the list goes on. At home, we’re talking smart TVs, smart heating systems, your kid’s Barbie doll, even your trusty smart fridge.

(I still live in hope that my fridge gets the kind of virus that accidentally orders every type of cheese from the supermarket… well okay, if I must.)

The blame game 

I’m as much to blame as you; eagerly scrolling through pages of legal jargon, scanning for that mythical “I Agree — Sign Me Up!” button without actually reading a single word of what I’ve just agreed to. (Pokémon Go- I’m looking at you.)

We get annoyed at tailored advertisements, yet we’re totally fine with posting, checking in, and tweeting our every move. We swipe loyalty cards, enter competitions, and search on Google for things we might not even ask our doctors.

We use the same passwords and passphrases across multiple sites, open spam emails (convinced that we may have forgotten the parcel that “Australia Post” is notifying us about).

We’ve shunned ‘ye olde’ bank teller in lieu of electronic fund transfers, but run the risk of wiring cash from infected computers or devices.

We know we should protect our files, but there’s always something more pressing to do, so updates and backups are relegated to the fabled tomorrow list (right alongside vacuuming under the lounge).

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to. The Stay Smart Online Week 2016 guide focuses on protecting yourself in just eight steps:

  1. Privacy: Be wary of what you share
  2. Passphrases: Create strong passphrases to be secure
  3. Suspicious messaging: Treat any unexpected message with caution
  4. Surfing safely: Avoid malware – keep to trusted websites
  5. Online finances and payments: Keep financial details from prying eyes
  6. Tablets and mobiles: Stay secure while on the move
  7. Reporting: Keep everyone safe by reporting scams
  8. Backups and protection: Back up and update for safety

You can read it all on the Stay Smart Online website and follow the simple steps to spring clean your digital life.

You can also keep your finger on the pulse by subscribing to the free Stay Smart Online Alert Service to receive regular updates about recent online threats and scams, and advice on how to manage digital risks.

While you’re on a roll, you can ‘like’ Stay Smart Online on Facebook, read the policies of the apps you frequent, and help spread the online security love to your family and colleagues, from the lounge room to the board room.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to vacuum the dust bunnies underneath my lounge.  

Good online habits are increasingly important in our digital economy. Don't forget to check out our article on password safety, to make sure you're not making any simple security mistakes.

Last updated on 04 October 2016

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