Today’s world is more interconnected than ever before. Yet, for all its advantages, increased connectivity brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. Week four of National October Cyber Security Awareness Month highlights how people can protect themselves against cyber crime and how to get help.
What Can Be Done to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cyber Crime?
1. Secure your computer. If your computer does not have proper security controls, it is vulnerable to access by criminals, who may be able to steal information stored on it. Make sure your computer has the latest security updates installed. Check that your antivirus and antispyware software are running properly and are receiving automatic updates from the vendor. If you haven’t already done so, install and enable a firewall.
2. Carefully select the sites you visit. Know the site. Know the company. Do not visit a site by clicking on a link sent in an email, found on someone’s blog, or on an advertisement. The website you land on may look just like the real site, but it may be a well-crafted fake.
3. Never send sensitive or personal information in an email. It may be intercepted and read by criminals. Legitimate businesses will not ask users to send their sensitive personal information through email.
4. Use strong passwords. Cyber criminals have developed programs that automate the ability to guess your passwords. To protect yourself, passwords must be difficult for others to guess, but at the same time, easy for you to remember. Passwords should have a minimum of eight characters and include upper case (capital letters), lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Make sure you use a different password for each of your accounts.
5. Look Yourself Up. Search engines will help you to do a quick query of your public information. You can also take a proactive approach to set up alerts for search terms of your name. Data service sites have massive amounts of data compiled from a variety of sources, including public records and social networking sites. This data can be used by criminal profilers, and others for any number of purposes, not necessarily intended by the data service providers.
6. Cleanup your data. Information that is under your control includes your social networking profiles. In addition, there could be information about you on old blog postings, postings on a friend’s web site, an old dating profile, picture sharing account, or any other services that you used but no longer find necessary.
7. Review your social media accounts. You basically have three options-remove the data, modify the privacy settings, and/or request that the account be deleted. If you are going to request that the account be deleted, be sure to remove all of the data first. Also, request that the account be deleted rather than deactivated.
8. Be cautious about all communications you receive including those purported to be from “trusted entities” and be careful when clicking links contained within those messages. If in doubt, do not click.
9. Do not respond to any spam-type emails.
10. Do not input your information in a pop-up. If you are interested in an offer that you see advertised in a pop-up ad, contact the retailer directly through its homepage, retail outlet, or other legitimate contact method.
Please visit the following sites for additional information and for resources to get help:
* NYS ITS Cyber Security Tips Newsletters: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ocs/awareness-training-events/news/
* Free security check ups: http://www.staysafeonline.org/business-safe-online/free-security-check-ups/
* Online scams, small business tools, videos: http://www.onguardonline.gov/
* FBI Cyber Crimes Stories: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/story-index/cyber-crimes
* Crime Prevention: http://troopers.ny.gov/Crime_Prevention/Online_Safety/
* Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
* National White Collar crime Center (NW3C): http://www.nw3c.org/
* NYS Information Security Breach and Notification Act: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ocs/breach-notification/
* FBI Internet Social Networking Risks: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/counterintelligence/internet-social-networking-risks
* Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG): http://www.antiphishing.org/
From the NYS Office of Information Technology Services Cyber Security Newsletter.