Bitdefender is warning Australians not to take shortcuts this tax season.
Bitdefender chief security strategist, Catalin Cosoi, said free Wi-Fi hotspots should be avoided when processing payments or inputting card numbers, names and address and other personal details.
“Free Wi-Fi hotspots can be tricky and, in Australia, they have lately multiplied like jellyfish,” he said.
“Hackers and petty cyber-thieves may easily intercept credit card numbers, name, address and other personal details they use for identity theft.”
A greater emphasis on online claim submissions, as well as the introduction of the new MyTax app, is making it easier for people to prepare and submit tax returns for FY14.
Many Australians are using Wi-Fi networks to mobile broadband while connecting to the Internet, though Cosoi recommends caution when accessing the MyTax app through public Wi-Fi networks.
Approaching with scepticism
Phishing in Australia remains a threat, with 10,000 analysed spam messages sent worldwide last year targeting Australians who wanted to submit their tax return.
In the same year, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) blocked 8000 fraudulent claims potentially totalling $40 million in losses in 2013.
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The ATO never sends messages asking for passwords or other personal details, and Cosoi recommends caution if there are emails allegedly from the ATO.
“Tax season marks a good opportunity to reinforce password security and create strong credentials for the tax return account,” he said.
“Passwords should be changed regularly and not be reused for social media accounts, e-mail and the Tax Return app.”
Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.