Big mistake every Australian must avoid on their tax

Tax and cyber security experts have warned Australians of a dangerous practice many are now doing with their personal tax returns and online banking.

Data from Norton LifeLock Tax Time survey obtained by News Corp Australia found 41 per cent of Australians do their personal tax matters on their work devices including phones, laptops and tablets, because they think it is more secure.

Among Generation Z (aged 18-24), 58 per cent use their work device, while 50 per cent of Millennials (age 25-30) use their work device. Almost a quarter of Baby Boomers (age 50-64) think the same.

It comes as one in 10 workers said they have shared their tax return using public wi-fi or using a hot spot via a friend.

Senior Director of the Consumer Business Unit at Symantec Mark Gorrie told News Corp that while using a work device on-the-go is more convenient, it carries risks.

"Scammers can hack a person's data in seconds as soon as it is transmitted on an open network," he said.

"Network monitoring software can be cheap and it enables you to see all the connections and traffic flowing through an open (public wi-fi) network and scammers can even redirect people to different sites if they want.

 

Using public Wi-Fi in a cafe can be risky when doing tax. Picture: Supplied
Using public Wi-Fi in a cafe can be risky when doing tax. Picture: Supplied

"A tax return has a lot of personal information like a name, address, phone number, tax file number, bank details, health insurance details … that's enough for a cyber criminal to create 80 per cent of a profile on you and then target you with specific email phishing scams."

H&R Block's Tax Communications Director Mark Chapman told News Corp that while 74 per cent of Australians still use a tax agent, those who do their own tax can be "careless".

"The only free time they have to do their tax may be in the lunch hour or before they start work and they don't think about security," he said.

"Insecure networks are everywhere … cafes, restaurants, railway stations, shopping centres, you should not access confidential information in those environments."

Mr Gorrie also said it was concerning that a quarter of Australians said they save their bank login details to their mobile, and one in six workers have used public wi-fi or hot spotting via a friend to log onto online banking.

 

Using a work device to do your tax has consequences. Picture: Supplied
Using a work device to do your tax has consequences. Picture: Supplied

 

Overall, those who have installed a form of protection through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is also still low.

A VPN lets users access the internet safely by helping to encrypt data even before a public wi-fi provider or another internet service provider sees it.

In NSW, 35 per cent of people said they had VPN protection across all their devices compared to 31 per cent of Victorians and 31 per cent of Queenslanders.

Those in NSW are also more likely to have a VPN on their personal mobile phones (17 per cent) compared to Victorians (11 per cent).

"If you're using a banking app on your phone, there's a chance it's not safe. You have to get a VPN on your device and encrypt yourself," he said.

 

HOW TO SECURE YOUR TAX DATA ONLINE:

*Buy and download a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect your devices

*Buy internet security software on all devices, beware of 'free' software made by companies that could sell your data to a third party

*Don't ignore all software and app updates

*Create strong passwords and use different passwords on your accounts with a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters

*Always use a password protected network where possible and ask your local cafe or library for example for their name of their wi-fi network

*Look for websites that use SSL (secure sockets layer) technology. You can see this in the URL where it says 'HTTPS', and it will also have a padlock icon next to it in your internet browser.

*Back up the data to an external drive and delete all tax-related information to the device you've used after filing the tax return

*Limit the amount of personal data sent on a public wi-fi network

 

Source: Norton by Symantec



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