ESET releases results of its Australian Cyberawareness Index 2019


Survey of more than 1,000 individuals in Australia reveals cybersecurity knowledge and behaviour leaves room for improvement

ESET has released the results of its Australian Cyberawareness Index 2019 and the results are worrisome with nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents saying they didn’t take security precautions as it was too time-consuming or inconvenient, or they weren’t worried about the risks, or they didn’t know what steps to take to protect themselves online. This is concerning for Australia given that 87 per cent of the population uses the internet and 93 per cent of those people used the internet daily.¹

To understand the current status of Australia’s cyberawareness, ESET conducted a survey of 1,062 Australian online users in August 2019. The survey covered the current state of technology adoption and what users are doing online as well as what they’re doing to protect themselves.

The survey found that almost all Australians (92 per cent) use a smartphone while 72 per cent use a laptop and 53 per cent use a tablet or iPad. Moreover, 48 per cent use a desktop computer and only 37 per cent have adopted smart home devices such as a smart TV or smart speakers. However, the wearables market is still nascent with just 27 per cent using wearable technology such as a fitness tracker or smart watch.

Nearly all (94 per cent) of the survey respondents said they conducted financial transactions online including online banking, paying bills, and online shopping. People are overwhelmingly doing financial transactions from their smartphones (56 per cent) and laptops (21 per cent). Just 14 per cent use a desktop and nine per cent use a tablet.

Nick FitzGerald said, “When performing any kind of transaction online, it’s essential for people to use the strongest protection possible. This means using strong, unique passwords and leveraging multifactor authentication and biometrics as much as possible. For devices without biometric capabilities and services without multifactor authentication options, users need to be especially vigilant about their passwords.”

The survey revealed that 36 per cent of respondents use public Wi-Fi for online financial transactions often or occasionally, while 26 per cent do it rarely and just 38 per cent said they never do it.

Nick FitzGerald said, “Public Wi-Fi is a security quagmire. It is very easy for bad actors to steal data, including account credentials, and to spy on users using public Wi-Fi. Often, they create a malicious Wi-Fi network that unsuspecting users connect to.

“For users that must connect to the internet while in public, it’s much safer to use cellular data rather than public Wi-Fi. And, with unlimited data plans, this doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. If travelling often, a mobile hotspot might be the economical solution for providing secure connectivity, especially for those carrying multiple Wi-Fi devices.

“Using public Wi-Fi for financial transactions is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided wherever possible. The risks are simply too high.”

Unfortunately, despite being aware of the risks, many Australians are still engaging in risky online behaviour. 77 per cent of respondents worried about the security of their data either often or occasionally. A further 20 per cent worried rarely while only four per cent said they never worried. This is concerning, especially given the significant risks that people face when undertaking financial transactions online and using insecure connections through public Wi-Fi.

Fittingly, people are most worried about security when doing online banking (37 per cent) and online shopping (33 per cent). These numbers are on par with the results seen in the 2016 version of this survey. They’re much less worried when paying bills or downloading games (just six per cent each).

Nick FitzGerald said, “Unfortunately, people are falling victim to security breaches. 20 per cent have had a virus, ransomware, or malware affect their devices, 18 per cent had a social media account compromised or hacked, and 15 per cent had their email compromised. More concerning was that 15 per cent of respondents had lost money to an online banking fraud or scam and 14 per cent had fallen victim to a fraud or scam received via their mobile phone.

“It’s important for Australians to educate themselves so they know when they’re being scammed because the losses can be significant. Installing security measures is also key and, together with a vigilant approach, can help protect users against most threats.

“This survey has revealed that it’s essential for people to become more aware and proactive about keeping themselves safe online. Taking a few moments to make all their passwords strong and unique (or set up a password manager) or to back-up their data, can mean that hackers fail to access their accounts, or that a ransomware attack is less devastating because the data is safe.

“For users that don’t know what cybersecurity steps to take, it’s important to proactively seek education and information to avoid becoming a victim.”

To view the full survey results, go to