First published: 02 May 2024
Last updated: 02 May 2024

Content written for

Individuals & families

In today's digital age, you need to think about your online security.

The internet provides many ways to learn and chat to friends, but it also exposes you to online threats. You could have your identity and money stolen, or someone could take advantage of you in other ways.

The steps in this guide can help you navigate the online world with confidence.

Tips for securing accounts and devices

Cybercriminals use many tactics to carry out their attacks. Common devices they target include your smartphone, tablet, computer or gaming console.

Below are things that you should do to reduce the risks.

If you are still unsure or need immediate help, report it or reach out to someone you trust. If something bad has happened, find out how to get help below.

A passphrase is even better than a password. It is harder for cybercriminals to guess and easy for you to remember.

A secure passphrase has at least 14 characters using four or more random words. For example, ‘purple duck potato boat’.

You should use a different passphrase for each account. Especially if they contain personal information such as your name, address or date of birth. If someone hacks your account, it means that they are less likely to get into your other accounts.

Learn more about passphrases.

MFA is when you use two or more proofs of identity to log in. For example, using your login details as well as an authentication code.

MFA puts an extra shield around your account. It is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

If someone guesses or steals your passphrase, they need another step to get into your account.

Learn more about MFA.

Regular updates make your devices more secure. Check automatic updates are on and install updates as soon as you can.

Learn more about updates.

A backup is a digital copy of your important data such as photos or files.

If you lose your device or it’s stolen, you can use a backup to get your data back. You can store backups in the cloud or on an external hard drive.

Learn more about backups.

Geolocation is when you can track the location of your device. Be careful not to share your location online with strangers or on public sites.

Always check location services for each of your apps under device settings. Most apps don’t need to know your location. Think about deleting apps where you can’t turn it off.

Some apps will ask for access to your camera and photos. Always check and adjust this setting for each of your apps. Most apps don’t need to access your camera and photos.

You can also choose which photos you want to share instead of sharing them all.

If you share devices with your family, make sure they know how to be cyber secure. 

Ask them to:

  • use strong passphrases
  • turn on MFA
  • keep devices updated. 

Together, you can create a safer digital space for you and your family.

If you bring your devices to school or other public places, take extra care to:

  • lock your device when not in use
  • avoid connecting to unknown Wi-Fi networks
  • think twice about what you share or access while on your school network. 

Remember to follow your school policy on device use and security.

Social media and gaming

Social media and online gaming is a fun way to connect with your friends, relax and build skills. But not everyone online is who they say they are.

Be aware of the potential risks of gaming. When playing games online, you might meet people who have bad intentions.

Never share your personal details with someone you don’t know. Tell a friend or adult you trust if someone contacts you in a way that is suspicious or makes you uncomfortable.

Be aware of phishing scams in games. Scammers may offer you things that seem too good to be true. For example, free upgrades, in-game currencies, or rare character items. Think before you trade or lend items since you may not get them back.

Only download things from an official game or app store. Avoid visiting suspicious links or downloading unknown files. Don’t give out your personal details or money without first checking the source.

Be alert for scams, malware and other vulnerabilities in gaming forums and chat platforms. It is common for cybercriminals to target users with malicious links or attachments. Make sure to look out for anything unusual.

Learn more about:

If you use social media, you might have ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ who you haven’t met in real life. You may also follow your favourite celebrities or official fan sites.

Many profiles and websites are safe to follow or use. But it is easy for people to pretend to be someone else online by using fake profile images.

Learn more in the eSafety Commissioner’s guide about the latest games, apps and social media.

Case study

A teenager from WA made an online friend on the social messaging platform Discord. The two friends chatted online and played Minecraft together. Through Discord, the online friend shared a file and told the teenager to download it. Even though they felt unsure about it, the teenager decided to trust the online friend. When the teenager opened the file, a malicious screen opened and closed. The online friend then sent back personal information about the teenager to threaten them. This included details such as their device location and email address, which cybercriminals can profit from. This incident could expose the teenager or their family to further attacks and scams.

Here are some extra tips to keep you secure when chatting and gaming online.

  • Check your privacy settings: Limit who can see your posts and personal details on your social profiles. Never share sensitive details online such as your address, phone number, or date of birth. Sharing photos can even put you at risk, as it may show your school uniform or location metadata. The less you share the better. Learn more from eSafety about how to protect your identity.
  • Use legitimate software: Always get apps and games from a trusted physical store, online retailer or app store.
  • Avoid saving payment details: If you have your own bank account, avoid saving payment details in your apps and accounts. This includes your credit card or bank details. Some devices have a setting that asks for a password when downloading an app. You can also set the app to prompt for your password after you are inactive.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers: Cybercriminals will pretend to be someone your age or even someone from your school. Ignore and report anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable or acts in a suspicious way.
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited messages: This includes a phone call, SMS, instant message, in-game chat or email. Scammers often get you to give them your bank details or open a file. If someone has sent you an unsolicited request, ignore it and report it through Scamwatch
  • Check the URL of websites: When you visit any website, make sure the web address (URL) is the real one. Scammers can create fake websites with subtle differences, even one letter. This can be tricky to spot, so check the domain name and spelling is correct.
  • Be careful when shopping online: If you buy something online, the URL should start with ‘https’ and have the company’s name. Don’t visit links or use contact details sent to you from someone you don’t know. If in doubt, contact the company through their official website.

How to get help

Did something bad already happen to you? Find out what to do based on the following scenarios.

Change your hacked account passwords straight away and notify companies such as your bank. Report it through ReportCyber and Scamwatch.

We have developed a tool to help you find out what to do if you think you are the victim of a cybercrime. Check out Have you been hacked? and report the incident through ReportCyber.

A malware attack can have serious and ongoing impacts. If you find malware on your device, stop what you are doing straight away and log out of your accounts. Follow our steps to recover from malware. Also report the incident through ReportCyber and Scamwatch.

Ransomware is a common and dangerous type of malware. It works by locking up or encrypting your files so you can’t access them.

Cybercriminals will demand a ransom to restore access to your files, or to stop them from leaking or selling your sensitive data online. The ransom is usually in the form of cryptocurrency.

If you are a victim of ransomware, don’t pay the ransom. Turn off the infected device as soon as possible and follow our steps to recover from ransomware. Also report the incident through ReportCyber.

This may include sharing:

  • intimate photos or videos of you
  • fake photos such as digitally-altered (photoshopped) nudes
  • revenge porn
  • inappropriate photos tagged with your name
  • images of you without your cultural or religious attire.

If the person hasn’t shared your intimate details yet, they may be blackmailing you or threatening to do so. If you are uncomfortable and you did not give consent, you should speak up and report it to someone you trust, such as your parent or teacher. There will be help and support for you.

If you are being blackmailed and you are a young person (under 18 years):

The Australian Federal Police manages the ACCCE. Any information you provide will help protect other victims and prevent future incidents.

If you are being blackmailed and you are an adult (18 years and older):

  • stop all contact with the person
  • report it to eSafety

If you aren’t being blackmailed, still report it to eSafety. The questionnaire only takes a few minutes and will guide you to the right form. 

You should report it to ACCCE.

Don’t respond to the person and block them. This includes someone who is:

  • sending nude photos
  • saying and doing inappropriate things
  • trying to meet in person.

If this didn’t happen to you but you saw it happen to someone else, you should still report it.

Cyberbullying is a very serious issue. You can report it to the platform where it happened and ask them to remove the content.

Each platform is different, so find out what to do for common games, apps and social media. Don’t engage with the person and block them.

You should report any illegal or restricted content, even if it wasn’t sent to you.

This may include content that has:

  • violence
  • terrorism
  • sexual abuse
  • child exploitation
  • self harm.

You can report it to the platform where it happened and ask for them to remove the content. You should also report it to eSafety.

Each platform is different, so find out what to do for common games, apps and social media. Don’t engage with the person and block them.

If the content shows physical or sexual violence against children, report it to ACCCE.

If your situation is not listed here or you are unsure, you can contact our 24/7 Hotline on 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371). We may ask you to report it through ReportCyber or eSafety.

What if it happened to someone else?

The victim might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. You could:

  • encourage them to report what happened
  • report it on their behalf
  • ask a trusted adult for help
  • share this guide with them.

Before you block an account, it is a good idea to collect some evidence to assist with investigations. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

Find out how to collect evidence.

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