What do National Crime Prevention Month and National Cyber Security Awareness Month have in common?
Well, besides happening right now, in October, both are an opportunity to learn how to protect yourself from cybercriminals. There are more than 1.5 million victims of cybercrime every day, according to one cybercrime estimate. That’s 18 victims every second!
Cybercrime covers a broad range of illicit online activity, from harassment and stalking on social networks to phishing attacks – communications designed to trick you into providing passwords and other personal information. Successful phishing attacks can have devastating consequences, including identity theft and financial fraud.
With so much at risk, it’s imperative that you learn how to recognize potential threats, take appropriate precautions, and respond quickly if you do become a cybercrime victim. This Victims of Cybercrime tip sheet is a great resource to have on hand and share with friends and family.
One of the best ways to reduce your vulnerability to cybercrime is to follow advice from STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the national cybersecurity education and awareness campaign led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Department of Homeland Security. The National Crime Prevention Council is a member of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. National Network – participating in national and local awareness events as well as speaking at associated cybersecurity conferences.
The tactics used by cybercriminals are sophisticated and aimed at stealing your personal information. Often these criminals use malware to obtain your information and commit fraud. You can avoid malware with these STOP. THINK. CONNECT. tips:
- Keep software current. Running the most recent versions of your operating system, Web browsers, security programs, and mobile apps is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Make passwords long, strong, and unique. Different passwords for each account diminish the potential harm of a compromised account.
- Think before you act. Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true, or ask for personal information.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. If you’re online through an unsecured or unprotected network, be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you release.
- Disable auto-connect. Check your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings to be sure you connect manually to networks you trust. Automatically connecting to Wi-Fi can leave you vulnerable to hackers and others.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Delete any communications (i.e., texts, emails, social media posts) that look suspicious, even if you think you know the source.
- Protect your money. When banking or shopping online, use only trusted apps or websites that begin with https://.
- Help the authorities fight cybercrime. Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.
You can find more STOP. THINK. CONNECT. tips at http://stopthinkconnect.org/tips-and-advice/.
And for even more advice, join STOP. THINK. CONNECT.’s Twitter chats on cybercrime prevention and resources. Follow the conversation and ask questions by using the hashtag #ChatSTC on Thursday, October 24 from 3-4 p.m. EST.
Get involved. Join the campaign as a friend or as an organization in the National Network. Join at http://stopthinkconnect.org/get-involved/.
For more information about staying safe in a high-tech world, visit www.ncpc.org.
Blog contributed by the National Cyber Security Alliance. Visit http://www.staysafeonline.org/ for more information and resources.