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Top cyber security tips for individuals

Tips for individuals to keep your personal information safe from identity thieves and hackers.

Last updated 12 November 2023

Make sure your online access is strong and secure

There are many options available to access online accounts and services. Where possible, use:

  • a Digital IDExternal Link, such as myGovIDExternal Link. myGovID allows you to prove who you are online and is the most secure way to access our online services.
  • multi-factor authentication. This requires you to provide multiple pieces of information to authenticate – for example, a text message sent to your phone when logging in to a website.

An additional layer of security on your accounts can make it harder for others to access your account.

Use strong passwords or passphrases. Using passphrases can boost the security of your accounts and make it harder for cyber criminals to access your information. PassphrasesExternal Link use 4 or more random words and can include symbols, capitals, and numbers. A password manager can help you generate or store passphrases.

Make sure all devices have the latest available security updates

Run weekly anti-virus and malware scans and have up-to-date security software.

Instances of malicious software (malware) are increasing. It can be easy to accidently click on an email or website link which can infect your computer.

In some instances, your device may be impacted by ransomware. Ransomware can:

  • lock your computer until you pay a fee to criminals
  • install software which provides access to your bank accounts, allowing criminals to steal your money.

Use a spam filter on your email account

Always use a spam filter on your email account and do not open unsolicited messages.

Be wary of downloading attachments or opening email links you receive, even if they are from someone you know.

Spam emails can be:

  • embedded with malware
  • used to trick you into providing information or buying non-legitimate goods.

Do not respond to or click on these emails. This can help you reduce the risk of your personal information being used fraudulently, or your computer being infected with malware.

Use a secure wireless network

Be vigilant when using public wireless networks. Avoid making online transactions while using public or complimentary wi-fi.

Not all wi-fi access points are secure. By making online transactions (such as online banking) on an unsecure network, you can put your information and money at risk.

Be vigilant about what you share on social media

Keep personal information private and be aware of who you are interacting with.

People are accustomed to sharing personal information on social media. However, before sharing ask yourself if it is information you want strangers to have access to.

It's very easy for information on social media sites to be shared outside of your network, even when your security settings are set to private.

Be sure you know who you are speaking to on social media, and only share information with people you know and trust.

Criminals can use certain combinations of your personal information to impersonate you to access money, apply for credit cards and bank loans, or commit crimes.

Treat your personal information like cash

Do not leave your personal information lying around. If your personal information is stolen, it is very difficult to get back.

Keep your personal information private. Only share it when you are required to, and only share it through authorised processes and to authorised people.

Monitor your accounts for unusual activity or transactions

Check your accounts (including bank accounts, online services and social media) for transactions or interactions you did not make, or content you did not post.

If an organisation you deal with sends you an email alerting you to unexpected changes on your account, do not:

  • click on included hyperlinks
  • open any attachments.

You should immediately:

  • check your account
  • contact the organisation by phone.

Make sure your mail is secure

Make sure your mail is secure and consider using a secure PO Box.

Mail theft is a leading cause of personal information security breaches.

Be careful downloading programs or opening attachments

Some programs contain malware that can infect your computer or be used to harvest your personal information.

Be sure you are downloading authorised and legitimate programs. Unless you know the program is legitimate, do not open attachments or download it.

Don't leave your information unattended

Secure your electronic devices wherever you are. Your personal information can be taken in an instant. In some situations, you won’t even know it was stolen.

Make sure you:

  • do not leave electronic devices unattended
  • secure your electronic devices with passcodes
  • securely store portable storage devices (such as thumb and hard drives) when not in use.

For more information on how to keep your information secure, see:

Cyber Security Stakeholder Group

We developed these tips in consultation with the Cyber Security Stakeholder Group (CSSG), a group comprising of the ATO, tax practitioner industry groups, government agencies and industry partners. The CSSG are working with us to combat the growing threat of identity theft and cybercrime.

You can download a printable version of Security tips for individuals via the ATO Publication Ordering ServiceThis link opens in a new window – search for Security tips and select Media – all publications.