How To Protect Your Data

With the recent data breaches that have targeted millions of Australians, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your passwords, financial accounts and personal information safe and protected.

Here are some straightforward ways to protect your data and devices from threats:

Encrypt Your data

Modern tools make it easy to encrypt your data and email before a breach can occur. There are publicly available tools and open source plug-ins which protect files, devices and emails. Some devices have built in monitoring systems, while other systems can be subscribed to and connected as plug-ins.

Pro Tax Tip: The ATO have assured Australians that their systems have not been affected by the recent Optus data breach. Optus customer service can be contacts on 13 39 37

Encrypting Emails

Your emails can provide a weak access point that hackers and scammers can easily filter and mine for your information. Emails that are sent over unsecured or pubic Wi-Fi networks or even sent within a secure company can be intercepted by other parties. If you encrypt your emails, the content remains unreadable when they travel from origin to destination if they are intercepted.

You should encrypt the connection from your email provider, your actual email messages and your stored, cached or archived emails.

Pro Tax Tip: Never share your Tax File Number (TFN) over email or message program. You should keep your TFN secure at all times. Only share your TFN with the ATO, other government departments, your superannuation fund, bank or financial institution, your employers after you’ve started your job and your tax agent.

Back Up Your Data

It pays to back up and duplicate your data regularly so that if a device is lost, stolen or compromised, you won’t also lose your information. Many businesses don’t have a disaster recovery plan but the longer it takes to restore your data, the more time you can’t trade and earn an income. Downtime costs businesses money.

Pro Tax Tip: If you back up your data and files elsewhere other than on a hard drive, don’t forget to shred the hard drives and computers no longer needed. Don’t leave data sitting around just because you don’t use the device any more.


Secure Your Wireless Network

Always secure your Wi-Fi with a password at home and at work. This prevents unauthorised individuals within proximity to hack your wireless network. You don’t want to share private information even if people are leeching your Wi-Fi. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to your router to stop hackers from gaining access.

Pro Tax Tip: If you think you’re affected by the Medibank private cyber incident, AHM customers should ring 13 42 46. Medibank Private customers should contact 113 23 41.


Firewalls block dangerous programs, viruses and spyware before they infiltrate your system or device. Various software companies offer firewall protection. Hard-based firewalls such as those built into network routers provide a better level of security.

USB and SIM cards

Leaving your USBs or SIM cards unprotected is like not having your PC or laptop protected should they become lost or stolen. USB and SIM cards can simply be plugged into another device to enable the user to see every file stored on them unless it’s encrypted.

Pro Tax Tip: Encrypt your phones SIM card in case it’s stolen or take it out if you’re selling it.

Web Browsing

Websites track everything you click online. Every ad you view, every social media button you click and every post you spend time on is noted. Your location, spending and browsing habits are also tracked. This allows social media channels and data advertisers to send targeted advertising to your screen.

Web browser extensions block the data they collect from your history. They also prevent malware running in your browser and provide a way to turn advertising off. They’ll also support sites that are secure.

Pro Tax Tip: You can disable interest-based ads from Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. It won’t eliminate the problem completely but it will cut off the amount of data collected.

Anti-Virus Programs

Anti-Virus programs will stop malicious software installing in your computer and can stop anything from annoying pop-up ads, limit you for clicking perilous links, and covert bitcoin mining to scanning your personal information. Microsoft and mac users have in built protection programs but if you want a second layer of security, you should install a well-known option. Protection on your mobile device is a must, however some extra features require a premium subscription if you want more than a basic level of protection.

Information for those caught in large data breaches include:

Australian Cyber and Security Centre’s (ACSC) advice for those affected by the Optus data breach

ACSC have you been hacked quiz

IDCare’s Response Fact Sheet for Optus Data Breach

If your identity has been stolen, you can apply for a Commonwealth Victims’ Certificate

Scamwatch alerts on how to further protect your information – Optus data breach and Medibank Private data breach

The following websites can help you protect yourself and stay informed:

Moneysmart – Identity theft

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) – Identity fraud – Report cybercrime

Services Australia – Replacing a Medicare card because of a data breach

Contact the ATO directly:

The ATO can be contacted directly if you’re ever wary of being on the receiving end of a scan. They can be contacted on 1800 008 540 or click here to see hot to spot a and report a scam

ITP Accounting Professionals are committed to protecting the privacy and accuracy of confidential information. Your personal details including your Tax File Number (TFN), is not shared with any other agency other than the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with the express intent of lodging your tax return. We do not re-distribute or sell personal information collected under any circumstances, nor do we share your information with any third parties.

Our systems provide the greatest security with any of our client’s personal information to protect against external threats and malicious intent. We prioritise detection, analyse and respond to known, anticipated and unexpected cyber threats, and implement controls to identify, authorise, authenticate and manage access to our systems and information assets.

What Do You Watch Out For?

We will never ask you to send your TFN via email. We will never ask you to provide any personal identifying information in order to receive a refund. Don’t give out your TFN, date of birth or bank details unless you’ve checked the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are and they genuinely require these details. Do not share your TFN on social media.

The ATO will never send you an email or text message with a hyperlink directing you to a log-on page for their online services.

Verify Any Requests For Your TFN

Always verify the identity of the person you’re dealing with through an independent source. Don’t ever use the contact details provided by the caller or in the message they sent to you. When doing tax time transactions, ensure that your private Wi-Fi network is secure with a strong password. ITP Accounting Professionals are registered tax agents with the Tax Practitioners Board, which is a registered government body that regulates the safety of the Australian public with confidential information. Please contact your local ITP tax agent if you have any queries or concerns about your private information.