It is important to protect your personal information online and be confident that the websites you access are treating it securely and appropriately.

Cyber security is about protecting your privacy, information and devices from unauthorised online access. Follow these tips and advice to limit the risk to yourself and the University, and stay safe online.

Personal information

Protect your personal information online by choosing strong passwords, encrypting your data and by enabling multifactor authentication.

Internet browsing can expose you to hidden security threats like viruses, spyware and adware that could leak your personal information. Be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid them such as updating your web browsers regularly and enabling security features to warn you about potential threats.

Some standard precautions to take with your PINs and passwords:

  • use a password with a combination of letters and numbers that is at least 12 characters long and hard to guess
  • regularly change your password to help protect your accounts in case your password becomes known to others
  • never enter your password on non-secure networks or websites
  • never reveal your password/PIN to anyone and don't keep a written record of it on you
  • don't use the same password/PIN for multiple accounts
  • use online resources to generate a highly secure password or check how strong your password is.

Multifactor authentication (MFA) provides an extra layer of security that helps protect your account by requiring multiple pieces of information to verify your identity. Set up multifactor authentication when available for your email, social media accounts and other logins like Apple and iCloud.

While most applications only require a username and password to access your account, applications using a second authentication factor may ask you to verify your identity using physical security tokens or by entering a code received via text message on your mobile phone.

Encrypting your personal data ensures your information remains unreadable and safe. You can encrypt your sensitive and private data by:

  • using passwords on all your documents and files
  • using zip tools such as WinZip to encrypt your files with a secure password.


Protect your privacy by ensuring any personal information that could be used to identify you stays private. Information you post to social media can be used to steal your identity or hack into your accounts.

You should always be cautious when revealing sensitive information over unsecured networks or when using public computers.

Phishing is the process of attempting to gain sensitive information (usernames, passwords and credit card details) by pretending to be a trustworthy entity.

Cybercriminals use phishing email messages, websites and phone calls to install malicious software on your computer or steal your personal information.

To help minimise your risk:

  • never click on a link in an unknown email
  • never give away sensitive information (e.g passwords) on an unknown website.

VU will never request your password or ask you to validate your password through email links.

If you believe you may have responded to a phishing email, phone IT Service Desk:

  • +61 3 9919 2777 (option 1)

Sites like Facebook, MySpace and blogging platforms can offer exciting social networking opportunities, but you should be cautious not to expose yourself to the risk of security or privacy violations.

Follow these tips to help protect your privacy when using social networking:

  • Check the privacy settings offered by the site before you set up a profile.
  • Only provide the information you are willing to share online indefinitely - many sites keep your information even if you deactivate or delete your profile.
  • Avoid revealing personal information online that might help others identify your PINs or passwords - your personal details (e.g. date-of-birth) can be used for identity fraud.

Unrestricted sites can be searched by users (or prospective employers) looking for background information about you. Be careful about the type of information you share.

Illegal downloading, streaming, file sharing and publishing breach copyright and can result in disciplinary actions, fines or worse.

Unauthorised uploading and downloading of copyrighted works is a crime.

Social engineering is the manipulation of people into performing actions or sharing confidential information. Cybercriminals may use social engineering to trick you into sharing your passwords, bank information or gain access to your computer to install malicious software.

Remember to:

  • never share passwords or credit card numbers
  • always log out or lock your computer screen if you need to step away from your computer
  • connect to a secure network – when on campus, connect to eduroam secure wireless network
  • never use USB’s, memory cards or devices that don't belong to you.


Your devices (laptop, phone, tablet, smart watch) contain personal and professional data, including your locations, studies and banking.

Making your devices secure should be your first priority. Follow these tips:

  • keep your devices up to date by installing the latest version of all software and deleting any data, apps and software that you no longer use
  • set up a device password/PIN gesture or fingerprint that must be entered to unlock your device
  • leave Bluetooth hidden when not in use and disable automatic connection to networks
  • limit access to sensitive accounts such as banking when using public Wi-Fi hotspots in cafes, airports, hotels and libraries.

We recommend downloading free antivirus software on your home computer to guard against viruses, spyware and malicious software.

Contact us

If you have concerns about your security and privacy online or if you believe you may have responded to a phishing attack, please contact us in one of the following ways:

The following websites give excellent advice on staying safe online:

  • The Australian Government has a website with information and tips to help you protect your privacy online.
  • The Australian Bankers Association provide details on staying safe online through their security and fraud prevention site.
  • Staysmartonline, an Australian government initiative, provides simple information for Internet users on how to protect themselves online, as well as up-to-date information on the latest online threats.
  • Advice on ways to protect your privacy by making your mobile device (smartphones and tablets) more secure.
  • Scamwatch, run by the ACCC, provides information about current scam alerts as well as how to recognise and avoid scams.
  • Little Black Book of Scams is a document published by the ACCC through their website. The book identifies several common scams, how to recognise them, and how to avoid them.