Cyber Security

Practicing good cyber-security online – tips to protect yourself and your personal information

AWN takes cyber-security and the protection of personal information very seriously.

In light of the increase in cyber-security incidents both globally and across Australia in recent times, it is important to remain vigilant and take all possible steps to protect yourself online.

The following Top Five Tips are your best first line of defence to mitigate the risk to you and your personal information against this unfortunate online trend.

AWN’s top five cyber-security tips

  1. Update your computer, tablet, and mobile device software regularly

    An update is an improved version of the software (programs, apps, and operating systems) you have installed on your computer, tablet, and/or mobile device(s).

    Software updates help protect your devices by fixing software ‘bugs’ (coding errors or vulnerabilities) that cybercriminals and malware can use to access your device and steal your personal data, accounts, financial information, and identity.

    New software ‘bugs’ are constantly being found and exploited by cybercriminals, so updating the software on your devices helps protect you from cyber-attacks.

  2. Activate multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all your services and accounts

    You can use MFA to improve the security of your most important accounts. MFA requires you to produce a combination of two or more of the following authentication types before granting access to an account.

    • Something you know (e.g., a PIN, password, or passphrase)
    • Something you have (e.g., a smartcard, physical token, authenticator app, SMS, or email)
    • Something you are (e.g., a fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scan)

    MFA makes it harder for cybercriminals to gain initial access to your account by adding more authentication layers, requiring extra time, effort, and resources to break.

    Two-factor authentication (2FA) is the most common type of MFA, requiring two different authentication types.

  3. Backup your computers and devices as regularly as possible

    You should regularly back up your files and devices. What that looks like, whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly, is ultimately up to you. The backup frequency could depend on the number of:

    • New files you load onto your device
    • Changes you make to files

    Check your backups regularly so that you are familiar with the recovery process, and ensure your backups are working properly.

  4. Use complex passwords to secure all of your accounts

    Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most effective ways to protect your accounts from cybercriminals. If MFA is not available, a unique strong passphrase can better protect your account compared to a simple password.

    • What is a passphrase?

      A passphrase uses four or more random words as your password. For example: ‘crystal onion clay pretzel’.

    • Passphrases are more secure than simple passwords
    • Passphrases are hard for cybercriminals to crack but easy for you to remember

    How can I create a strong password/passphrase?

    Create passphrases that are:

    • Long: at least 14 characters long, using four or more random words. The longer your passphrase the more secure it is.
    • Unpredictable: use a random mix of four or more unrelated words. No famous phrases, quotes or lyrics.
    • Unique: not re-used across multiple accounts.

    If a website or service requires a complex password including symbols, capital letters, or numbers, you can include these in your passphrase. Your passphrase should still be long, unpredictable, and unique for the best security.

  5. Secure your mobile devices

    Today smartphones and tablets are used to connect, shop, work, bank, research, and track our fitness and complete hundreds of other tasks at any time and from any location.

    How do I secure my mobile device?

    Device Security

    • Lock your device with a passphrase, password, PIN or passcode. Make it difficult to guess – your date of birth and pattern locks are easy for cybercriminals to deduce. Use a passphrase for optimal security. You might also consider using facial recognition or a fingerprint to unlock your device.
    • Ensure your device is set to automatically lock after a short time of inactivity.
    • Don’t charge your device at a public charging station and avoid chargers from third parties.
    • Treat your phone like your wallet. Keep it safe and with you at all times.

    Software and App Security

    Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new application and operating system updates as soon as they are available.

    Set the device to require a passphrase/ password before applications are installed. Parental controls can also be used for this purpose.

    Check the privacy permissions carefully when installing new apps on your device, particularly for free apps. Only install apps from reputable vendors.

    Data Security

    Enable the remote locking and wiping functions, if your device supports them.

    Ensure you thoroughly remove personal data from your device before selling or disposing of it.

    Connectivity Security

    Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you are not using them.

    Ensure your device does not automatically connect to new Wi-Fi networks.

What AWN will and won’t ask you for re: cyber-security

AWN will never send out emails or SMS messages to you directly asking for payments of any sort and asking you to confirm banking details or passwords. If you believe you've received a phishing email that appears to have come from AWN, don’t respond, and don’t click on any links or open any attachments. Simply forward the entire email to and delete it.

Additional resources

The following Federal Government websites are helpful in providing additional advice and resources:

  1. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)
  2. ACCC Scam-watch