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Along with keeping your information safe by taking steps such as ensuring you have the right anti-virus installed, using a strong password and being careful about what you share on social media, it’s also important that you encrypt sensitive information before you send it via email.

Let’s look at what encryption is, why it’s important, and what kind of information you should consider encrypting.

WHAT IS ENCRYPTION AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

We lock our homes, restrict access to buildings, and protect our assets with various forms of insurance. So why wouldn’t you also protect the information you share via email or other online methods from falling into the wrong hands?

Data is a big part of our everyday lives; just as you would protect your computer with anti-virus software, protect your data with encryption. Encryption prevents unauthorised access to your information by ‘locking’ your files so they cannot be accessed by anyone other than the intended recipient.

When you encrypt a file, the recipient requires a ‘key’ or password to ‘unlock’ the document or item again. This prevents your information from being intercepted or accessed by people without the password.

WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I BE ENCRYPTING?

You should consider encrypting the following kinds of information when sharing it via email or another online method, including:

  • personally-identifiable information, including any documents that contain information such as your driver’s licence, tax file number, date of birth and passport information
  • financial or bank account details
  • business and intellectual property, such as customer information, financial reports, and other sensitive information related to yourself or your business.

HOW DO I ENCRYPT INFORMATION?

Different programs and file formats will have different steps for encrypting documents.

Read Microsoft’s article on protecting word documents with a password.

When sending the encrypted file to the recipient, ensure you advise them of the password via a different means (such as an SMS or phone call). Never include the password in the email with the encrypted document. If the email gets in the hands of someone who shouldn’t access, you have just provided them with the document and the password!

FOLLOW THESE 5 SIMPLE SECURITY TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF ONLINE:

  • Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious messages
  • Report any suspicious phone calls, emails or text messages to phish@nab.com.au
  • Use a password manager tool to create and store unique or complex passwords
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication for email and banking
  • Ensure your devices have anti-virus software installed and automatic updates enabled
  • Learn more at nab.com.au/security

Helpful resources

Australian Government | Stay Smart Online

Stay Smart Online provides topical, relevant and timely information on how home internet users and small businesses can protect themselves from, and reduce the risk of, cyber security threats. These include software vulnerabilities, online scams, malicious activities, and risky online behaviours.

Australian Government | Australian Cyber Security Centre

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) brings cyber security capabilities from across the Australian Government together into a single location. It's the hub for private and public sector collaboration and information-sharing to combat cyber security threats.

An Australian Government initiative | Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN)

ACORN is a secure reporting and referral service for cybercrime and online incidents which may be in breach of Australian law. The ACORN website provides a cybercrime reporting mechanism as well as helpful information about cyber crime.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission | Scamwatch

Scamwatch provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams using publications, videos and other online resources.

Australian Government | Office of the eSafety Commissioner

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides online safety education for Australian children and young people, a complaints service for young Australians who experience serious cyberbullying, and address illegal online content.

Australian Government | Attorney-General’s Department

The Attorney-General’s Department website provides helpful information and resources about your rights and protections in regards to identity security, freedom of information and cyber security. The Department has developed a range of resources to assist people protect their identity and recover from the effects of identity crime.

IDCare

IDCare is Australia and New Zealand's not-for-profit counselling and support service set up to assist Australians impacted by identity theft and cyber-related crimes.

IDCare can assist NAB customers to navigate through the process when identity details or credentials have been compromised through fraud or scams. IDCare is a free service for all Australians.

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