Avoid common cyber security threats

Last week, we talked about the phishing schemes targeting fears about COVID-19

This week, we’re asking: do you know the types of threats to look out for?

Malicious software (Malware) 

Malware is software that operates with malicious intent (e.g. steals data, causes system disruptions).  

Common types of malware: 

  • Trojans open doors for attackers 
  • Spyware tracks keystrokes to expose behaviours and identification 
  • Adware displays endless pop-up ads that can’t be closed. 

Protect yourself 

  • Stay up-to-date on cyber security trends and best practices.  
  • Exercise caution when clicking on links in emails, only download files from trusted sites. 
  • Keep personal web browsers, anti-virus, and operating systems up-to-date. 

Phishing emails aim to expose personal details. 

Common phishing emails: 

  • masquerade as your bank, government agencies, or social sites 
  • include requests to download files, click links, or confirm personal details 
  • have a sense of urgency or consequences (e.g. your account will be locked). 

Protect yourself 

Red flags to look for: 

  • inconsistent branding or badly-formatted emails 
  • unsolicited instructions to download software or click links 
  • generic forms of address (e.g. ‘Dear user’ vs ‘Dear Bob’) 
  • bad spelling and grammar. 

Did you know phishing can happen over the phone? These messages are usually recorded and contain instructions to call a specific number. 


Whenever you use the Internet, you exchange tiny bits of information with other systems. Eavesdropping attacks (also called Man-in-the-Middle attacks) subtly insert themselves into these transactions and steal data by listening in on what’s going on. 

Protect yourself 

Eavesdropping attacks occur most frequently on unsecured public Wi-Fi (e.g. airports) so the best protection is to avoid connecting to these networks.

Stay up-to-date on cyber security advice at ACU by joining the Cyber Security Workplace group, or follow the IT Directorate COVID-19 Response Kit on the SharePoint.

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