Each and every time you log onto the internet your computer is at risk of various threats with the aim of getting your personal details and accessing your money.

Behind the scenes we use various security measures to ensure that your transactions and personal information are protected. However, you as a customer can also play a big part in protecting your banking and personal information. The first step in that process is to understand the main threats to your computer.

Here we describe the main threats to your computer and how to protect yourself from them.

 

A computer virus is software that affixes itself to another program like a spreadsheet or word document. Similar to a biological virus, it must attach itself to another program to survive and reproduce. Unlike Trojans, which are self-sufficient programs, viruses can only run if the infected program is running. While active, the virus attempts to reproduce and attach itself to other programs. This can tie up resources such as disk space and memory, causing problems on any home computer.

An email virus is the latest type of computer virus. It is transported through email messages and usually replicates by automatically distributing itself out to all contacts on the victims email address book.

A worm is similar to a virus. It exploits computers in a network that contain security holes. Once a security hole is found, the worm will attempt to replicate itself from computer to computer. Like viruses, worms can be equally destructive.

You can increase your chances of ensuring your computer is free from worms and viruses by:

  • Installing anti-virus software, and keeping it updated with the latest virus definitions.
  • Downloading and installing security patches for your operating system as soon as they become available.
  • Not accepting attachments from emails of unknown sources.
  • Installing software from trusted sources only.

Phishing is a scam where hackers 'fish' for your personal details by using hoax emails claiming to be from financial institutions. This method continues to be favoured by online thieves.

Hoax emails claiming to be from banks are often generated overseas and are sent in bulk. The email asks the recipient to provide sensitive information such as their username, password, customer registration number or PIN by providing a link leading to a fake website, enabling thieves to gather the details for later fraudulent use.

An example of a hoax email is shown below:

Phishing example

An example of a fake website mimicking the 'look and feel' of the ANZ Internet Banking site:

Example of fake website

If you receive an email requesting you to re-register or re-enter sensitive details, delete it immediately and notify the Internet Banking Help Desk on 13 33 50, 24 hours a day.

You can minimise your chances of being a victim of Phishing scams by:

  • Typing 'www.anz.com' into your Internet browser to log onto Internet Banking.
  • Treating all emails requesting personal log on information such as username, password or PIN with extreme caution. ANZ will not send you an email asking for your Account Details, Financial Details, or login details for ANZ Phone Banking, ANZ Mobile Banking or ANZ Internet Banking.
  • Immediately deleting emails of unknown origin, no matter how innocent or provocative the subject headings sound.
  • Changing your Internet banking password on a regular basis.
  • Keeping your anti-virus and firewalls up-to-date and perform regular scans of your computer.

Spyware

Spyware is a type of software that covertly collects user information while on the Internet.

Adware

Adware is a type of spyware used by marketers to track Internet user’s habits and interests for the purpose of customising future advertising material. Adware can monitor information such as the types of sites visited, articles read or the types of pop-ups and banners the user clicks on. The information is then used to customise future advertisements directed to the user, or can be sold to a third party for the same purpose.

There are products available that can help you detect, monitor and remove spyware from your computer. Many complete computer security software suites now come standard with a spyware detection and removal feature.

You can minimise your chances of unintentionally downloading spyware onto your computer by:

  • Being wary of banners, ads and pop-ups while surfing the Internet. Do not click on them no matter how enticing they may appear.
  • Reviewing terms and conditions when you install free programs or subscribe to services from the Internet.
  • Using up-to-date anti-spyware program to regularly scan your computer.

 

A Trojan is a destructive program that poses as a harmless application. Unlike viruses, Trojans do not replicate themselves and do not need a host program to attach to.

Today's computer users often accept Trojan horses onto their computers, believing that the program is harmless or even helpful. Some Trojans will claim to rid the computer of viruses or other harmful applications, but instead introduce viruses and leave it vulnerable to attacks by hackers and intruders. Trojans can appear as pop ups or some don’t appear at all and silently in the background do damage.

An example of what may appear on your screen with a Trojan:

Example of trojan

You can minimise your chances of unintentionally downloading Trojans by:

  • Not opening emails or accepting attachments from unknown sources.
  • Installing software from trusted sources only.
  • Not clicking on links contained within emails of unknown sources.
  • Regularly scanning your computer for Trojans and other malicious programs with up-to-date anti-virus software.
  • Using a firewall to monitor traffic to and from your computer while connected to the Internet.
  • Downloading and installing security patches for your operating system as soon as they are available.
  • Keeping your anti-virus and firewalls up-to-date and perform regular scans of your computer

Links

To find out more about online safety and your computer, go to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.