Emma Cockell was one of the 10 million Optus customers who had their personal details exposed in last year’s cyber attack.
Customers had their names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, driver’s licence details and passport numbers leaked, with Optus setting aside $140 million to cover the cost of the breach.
The 27-year-old Melbourne local had to get her driver’s licence replaced and quickly update all of her banking, government, insurance and social media passwords after finding out the news.
Also read: 100,000 Aussies sue Optus over data breach
Now, one year on, Emma said she was “hyper vigilant” about her online security and cautious about potential scams.
“I was one [of many] who got our data leaked last year. Before that, I never really thought about my online safety. But now it’s something I’m definitely more conscious of,” Emma told Yahoo Finance.
“As time has gone on, I’ve realised the gravity of it and I’m just really diligent about where I’m putting my information and who I am giving my information to.”
She’s now made a point to create stronger passwords using Apple’s password generator and has enabled two-factor authentication where available.
She’s also hyper aware of scam calls, texts and emails, and has noticed she has been getting a lot of them since the data breach, including from scammers pretending to be Amazon and the Australian Tax Office.
“It’s become evident that online scams and data breaches are becoming more of a problem in our modern world, especially with things like AI [artificial intelligence],” Emma said.
Aussies more worried about online security
Emma isn’t the only one in this boat. New research from PayPal Australia found three-quarters of Aussies were more concerned about the safety and security of their online and financial data than they were a year ago, with most taking proactive steps to protect themselves online.
“The breaches that impacted Australians a year ago were a reminder to all of us that we can’t be complacent when it comes to cyber security, especially as more aspects of our day-to-day lives shift online,” PayPal Australia head of information security Daniela Fernandez said.
“Every online action and transaction carries a measure of risk, but each of us has the ability to reduce the danger with simple steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
Tips to strengthen your online security
Here are some of the practical steps you can take:
Regularly update your computer security with anti-virus and anti-spyware software
Use passwords, passphrases and pins that would be difficult to guess and don’t reuse them across multiple devices and services
Enable multi-factor authentication where available
Never trust an unsolicited caller. If in doubt, hang up and contact the organisation through confirmed channels
Never share sensitive information such as your credit card number or password over the phone
Do not click on links or open attachments from senders you don’t recognise. If the contact appears to be from an organisation you deal with, log into your account through the official website and check if the message is legitimate