Internet essentials

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • help you understand what the internet is and how it is regulated
  • explain the basics of cyber security.

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • implement strategies to protect your identity in an online environment
  • identify the elements of uniform resource locators (URLS)
  • resolve common issues with your web browser.

5. Cyber security

The Australian Cyber Security Centre's Annual Threat Report states that "while this digital age presents enormous opportunity for all of us, this increased connectivity comes with greater exposure to cybercriminal activity".

 Cybersecurity & crime (YouTube, 5m01s)


Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information by baiting the user. In 2017, the ACSC observed an increase in business email compromise through targeted phishing emails (Australian Cyber Security Centre Threat Report). A typical phishing attack involves a person using electronic communication, typically email, to induce the user to click on a malicious link, or provide sensitive data. The bait might be an attractive subject line, or seemingly official layout and branding, or an enticing offer. The objective of a phishing attack may be to:

  • gain access to your username and password
  • obtain financial information
  • induce you to download malware.

Phishing can happen on social media platforms too: What Is Happening With the Great Ray-Ban Insta Sale of 2018? (Vice).

Spotting a phishing attempt

The Australian Cyber Security Centre recommends users avoid phishing attacks by:

  • not opening emails from unfamiliar people and companies
  • setting up a spam blocker on your email client
  • hovering your mouse over links to check the real URL
  • checking the message for spelling or grammatical mistakes
  • remaining skeptical of enticing offers — is it too good to be true?
  • not releasing any personal information via email — a reputable bank would not ask for personal information via email.
GIF showing what you should check to protect against a phishing attack
Source: Tips to avoid phishing.


Malware is a combination of the words ‘malicious’ and ‘software’. This software might be downloaded as a result of clicking on a malicious link, for instance as part of a phishing campaign or installing an unknown application. 

Click the plus symbol to find out more about each type of malware:

Stay cyber safe at UQ

Cybersecurity at UQ has information on how to:

  • recognise cyber security threats
  • report incidents and risks
  • access online training (for UQ students and staff)
  • stay cyber-secure, including using wifi safely and sharing sensitive information.

Protect yourself online

1. Install anti-virus software

Strongly consider installing anti-virus software to protect yourself against malware, spyware and adware. While UQ does not provide anti-virus software for students, it does recommend a free service, Sophos Home.

    PCMag has compared the main antivirus tools for Windows computers (see The Best Antivirus Protection of 2020) and Mac computers (see The Best Mac Antivirus Protection of 2020).

    2. Create strong passwords and vary them between services and platforms

    Read our module on password management and consider using a password manager. Do not use the Login with Facebook option. Researchers have identified security and privacy concerns with this method of authentication.

    3. Update your software regularly

    Software companies regularly patch security flaws in operating systems and applications. Simply keeping your phone or computer's operating system, web browser, and other applications up-to-date can help protect you and your data.

    4. Be alert and guard against phishing attacks

    Human error is one of the main causes of security breaches. Read the information on spotting a phishing attack.  

      Read Protect yourself by the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

      Malware can be distributed by spam or phishing emails, by visiting malicious websites or downloading legitimate-seeming software.

      The Digital wellbeing and privacy module examines privacy concerns and strategies to protect your privacy when online.

      Duration:   Approximately 20 minutes

      Graduate attributes

      Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

       Critical judgement

       Ethical and social understanding

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      Support at UQ

      Access UQ services to assist you with personal or study-related issues.