I've written about cybersecurity in the past and I have no doubt, given our current digital environment that I will again, likely multiple times in the future. The criminal element -- particularly for these types of crimes -- are not stupid. They are talented and sophisticated. And, because they think as criminals they think of creative ways to steal and corrupt systems that generally do not occur to honest individuals. This is the reason they often come up with schemes well before we are warned how to avoid them.
The internet makes it possible for many of us to work from home, shop, attend religious services, and stay connected with family and friends. Unfortunately, those conveniences come with risk, and cybercriminals are upping their game. Here are a few ways to protect yourself from hacks, scams, and malware. Aside from the below, keep in mind that digital is not the only way scams are attempted. The last few years has seen a substantial increase in supposed calls from the IRS and the Social Security Administration. If either of these agencies has business with you, they will not telephone, they will send you a physical letter. If you receive a phone call or email, just hang up and/or delete the email!
Emails from entities you do business with. It is not unusual these days to receive an email from an entity you do business with -- often asking you to verify personal or financial information. I know it looks genuine -- they're very good at copying logos. However, do not respond. Better to call the business and verify if they have contacted you. Often this is a scam designed to get you to part with personal information, password, etc.
Look twice before you click. Cybercriminals will try to get you to act quickly through subject lines and messaging; pause to consider before opening an unexpected email attachment. Most importantly, NEVER click on a link asking you to enter or change your password. Always go to the site to enter your password or call the company directly if there appears to be a problem.
Use strong passwords. Strong passwords are reasonably long and use a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t keep a list of passwords anywhere near your device, and if you keep a list, don’t spell out your password. Instead, record a hint, followed by the numbers and symbols, ideally unique to each site. Another option is to consider purchasing a password management system.
Add Two-Factor Authentication. For sensitive sites, such as financial accounts, add two-factor identification. After signing in, the institution will text, call, or email a one-time code.
Stay current. Google your name and delete old, unused accounts that come up. Clear your browser history periodically and delete apps you no longer use. Use the latest security software, web browsers, and operating systems. Regularly check for updates and sign up for automatic updates when you can.
Stay independent. When signing up for a new service or app, pass up the offer to sign in using Facebook or your Google account, which exposes the data in your accounts. You can manage connected accounts on social sites and disconnect any you no longer want to have connected.
Last, but not least, remember the warning given to all boxers before a boxing match begins: "protect yourself at all times!"
It’s important to stay vigilant about securing your financial and personal information. Please feel free to send these tips along to anyone who may benefit.
Protect Yourself Against Cyber Crime
October 29, 2023