Will turning off your phone daily prevent cyberattacks? 2023

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese advises Australians to avoid cyberattacks.

Last week, he advised people to switch off their phones for five minutes while brushing their teeth. “This is our job.”

After high-profile hacking of Optus, Medibank, and most recently, government-contracted legal firm HWL Ebsworth, the private sector is on notice to prevent cyberattacks that might affect Australians.

In a world of internet dangers, Albanese’s message was supposed to “mobilize” smartphone users to be more tech-savvy.

The Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre advises turning off cellphones when not in use, and the US National Security Agency advised turning them off once a week in 2020.

Some cybersecurity experts dispute whether the recommendation was appropriate.

Risk profile, according to Australian National University national security specialist Katherine Mansted.

“For high-risk people like the prime minister, that extra layer of things like turning your phone off occasionally might be good advice. “Most of us need to nail the basics of cyber hygiene,” Mansted added.

Software upgrades, strong passwords, multifactor authentication, and not clicking on scam SMS are the essentials.

Security consultant Troy Hunt called the prime minister’s suggestion absurd.

Five minutes? One minute? He said, “Why not 10 minutes?” since cellphones were built to function 24/7.

Hunt claimed current cellphones were “extraordinarily” immune to malware, and that the probability of some of it being installed on devices without user prompts was so unusual that there were large incentives for flaws.

He claimed international leaders and political dissidents are targeted because they have great value.

He advised most people to download certified programs from app stores and understand their permissions before installing.

Albanese’s suggestion was aimed at “quite sophisticated” cybercriminal behavior, and resetting a smartphone might just postpone the removal of crucial information.

“Last year, the ACCC reported over $3 billion in scam losses. He stated we should focus our consumer efforts on preventing individuals from falling prey to those things.

However, Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre CEO Rachael Falk advised shutting off your phone often.

“Turning it off every 24 hours will wipe some, but not all, exploits from your phone,” she added. Falk understood “exploits” as hacks or harmful programs installed on the phone by clicking a questionable link.

She said turning it off could eliminate the infection, but more dangerous software might require wiping the device.

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