Interview with Nadia Mitsopoulos, Radio ABC Perth

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The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

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3 November 2021

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Cyber crimes involving online shopping now account for one in five reports to the Australian Cyber Security Centre. And that is the focus of a new campaign being launched today. Andrew Hastie is the Assistant Minister for Defence, and has the details. 


NADIA MITSOPOULOS: First of all, Andrew, I'm sure you've heard that wonderful news that Cleo Smith has been found. How did you feel when you heard that this morning?

ANDREW HASTIE: Oh, it's just, it was amazing. It was wonderful news to wake up to. She'd been in all of our thoughts and prayers. And this morning, I gave my own four year old girl an extra-long hug, because I just can't imagine losing my own daughter. So yeah, it's just wonderful news to see her reunited with her parents.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Yeah, look, thank you very much for that. Let's now get on to the issue of online shopping and cybersecurity. First of all, how many online shopping-related frauds were reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre last financial year?

ANDREW HASTIE: Nadia, last year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre got 67,000 cybercrime reports, and 17 per cent of those were related to online shopping. So it's a large portion of all cybercrime being related to online shopping and this year before Christmas, we're expecting Australians to spend over $58 billion on pre-Christmas shopping. So, people are going to be shopping this year, and cyber criminals are going to be targeting those shoppers – and people need to be alert of the risks to them.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Ok, we’ll give the people some tips on what they need to look out for. But that's almost one in five of those complaints that come from people shopping online. Is there a particular age group that seems to be getting targeted here?

ANDREW HASTIE: Yeah, the 25 to 45 year old age group is being targeted. And so we need people to be aware of the basics, and, we've talked a lot over the last year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre about keeping your software up to date on your phones and your tablets; using two factor authentication for your online accounts - for example, your banking or shopping accounts; using strong passphrases; and backing up your data. They're just basic things you can do to protect yourself. But there's also other things you can do with respect to online shopping as well.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: And now this is, you're launching a campaign or the next part of your campaign, Act Now Stay Secure, which is a cybersecurity campaign that is very much this time looking at online shopping. What are you wanting people to do beyond those basics that you've mentioned?

ANDREW HASTIE: Well, we want people to be alert and conscious of the threats. These cyber criminals – when it comes to online shopping – are after your money and your personal data. They’ll be trying to sell you products that don't exist, they'll be impersonating well-known brands, and they'll be requesting personal and payment information that they don't actually need. To put it in practical terms, you wouldn't walk into a shady shopfront, so don't go to shady websites. Look for the padlock symbol at the corner of the web address. And make sure there's “HTTPS” before any web address that you click on. And they're just some basic things you can do. Also, my advice would be – and the advice from the ACSC is – stick to trusted sellers. Be aware of the fake websites. Be cautious of payments through social media platforms. Use secure payment methods like PayPal, don't use direct deposits or money transfers. These are the sorts of things that people need to be aware of. 

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: On ABC Radio Perth you are listening to Andrew Hastie the Assistant Minister for Defence on the latest instalment of the Act Now Stay Secure cyber security campaign and this one, very much focusing on online shopping. I mean, I don't know Andrew, if you've been in this position before, where you are browsing for something and you go, my gosh, that is a great bargain, too good to be true – and then click through. I mean, a lot of people do that because it is so hard sometimes to distinguish between a fake site and a real site?

ANDREW HASTIE: That's right. People have done it tough over the last two years with the pandemic and so they're going to be looking for bargains as well around Christmas time. And if you click on one of these links, you could find yourself down the rabbit hole, being targeted by a cyber criminal. So just be very, very cautious about it and don't click on things that you're not sure about. And what I would say to people as well is to go to, which is the Australian Cyber Security Centre's website, they’re the single source of all truth on cybersecurity from the Australian Government. And there you'll find tips on how to protect yourself when you're online shopping – and keeping to the basic principles is the best thing that you can do.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Do they often ask for personal payment information that they don't need to ask? Are there things we need to be looking for there? 

ANDREW HASTIE: Sure, they might ask for a direct deposit or money transfer. They might ask you to take a photo of your credit card and send it to them. They'll have a sense of urgency for the payment, and they just won't use conventional methods of transacting. So, there'll be some indicators there and that's what you need to look out for. One other point I would say as well is, don't do money or financial transactions using public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi is notoriously insecure, and if you're putting your credit card information over public Wi-Fi, it could be intercepted by cyber criminals and then used as well, to steal your identity, and to steal your money.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Have you seen these cases increase? I mean, the figures that you gave us earlier are obviously cause for concern, but are they becoming an easier target for cyber criminals, people who are shopping online?

ANDREW HASTIE: Yeah, definitely. As we've shifted a lot of our lives online over the pandemic, there's just a lot more human activity online: people are shopping, they’re banking, and of course not everyone is that literate when it comes to cybersecurity. So what we're doing as a government is uplifting cybersecurity across the country – helping seniors, helping households, helping small businesses, because they're the ones who generally don't have the time or the money to invest in cybersecurity. Big businesses can, they have their cybersecurity representatives. But it's people in everyday Australia who need to know these things, because they're the ones being targeted.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: Andrew Hastie is my guest this morning on ABC, radio, Perth and WA and Andrew while I've got you, just one final question on a different matter. The diplomatic fallout from that nuclear submarine decision continues to follow the Prime Minister in Europe. Are you absolutely sure and satisfied that nuclear subs are the best option for Australia going forward instead of conventional diesel?

ANDREW HASTIE: Yes. This is a huge decision that was taken back in September with the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) agreement that was signed. We will be acquiring nuclear submarines. They will be the best submarines in the world. They will be better than the conventional Attack Class submarines, which were the submarines that we're no longer proceeding with. We understand that that has caused disappointment with the French and the French Government, but the Prime Minister has made a difficult decision in the national interest – it is to protect future generations of Australians. It's also going to mean a lot for WA. They're going to be here at HMAS Stirling, where we last week announced $1 billion worth of investment into Stirling to get it ready. We’ll be upgrading wharves and berths and all the other things that we're going to need for these submarines – and it's very, very significant. It has implications for our education system – young Australians, primary, secondary and tertiary – are now going to have to learn about nuclear technology. They're also going to have the opportunity potentially to go to the UK, the US, because this agreement is much more than just submarines: there's going to be industrial secrets, all sorts of different capabilities that we're going to be sharing as part of this agreement.

NADIA MITSOPOULOS: I appreciate your time this morning. Thank you very much.

ANDREW HASTIE: Thanks very much, Nadia.


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