Crime Safety Prevention Tips

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2004, this designated month has grown in reach and participation to a grassroots campaign, emphasizing the role we all – from large enterprises to individual computer users – have in maintaining safety and security online. Although protecting your online presence is imperative all year long, October reinforces the collective effort that is required to stop these ever-increasing cybercriminals.

As school, socializing and many aspects of our lives have moved online over the past year and a half, due to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to protect your digital devices from cybercriminals. So, during the month of October, the FBI, the premier investigative agency, and other partner agencies want to remind you to do your part and #BeCyberSmart.

Below are several cyber safety tips to help protect you and your family from falling prey to cybercriminals:

  1. Keep software systems up to date. This is one of the most important cyber security tips for warding off ransomware. Check the update settings on your devices and make sure they’re being automatically updated.

  • Use a good anti-virus program and firewall. Anti-virus (AV) protection software is the most wide-spread solution against malicious attacks. This software blocks malware and other viruses from entering your device and compromising your personal data. In addition, using a firewall will help screen out hackers, viruses and other malicious activity occurring over the Internet.

  • Use strong passwords. Strong passwords are critical in keeping hackers out of your personal data. Here are some suggestions from Norton, one of the leading, anti-virus software companies https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-how-to-how-to-secure-your-passwords.html.

  • Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication. This is a service that provides additional layers of security to the standard username/password method of online identification. With two-factor or multi-factor authentication, you would be prompted to enter additional authentication like a Personal Identification Code, another password, fingerprints, etc.

  • Be knowledgeable about phishing scams. Recent cybercrime statistics indicate that 90 percent of ransomware attacks originate from phishing schemes. So, in general, be wary of emails or texts sent to you even from people you know (they could’ve been infected too). Determine where the email or text has come from and examine it for suspicious grammatical errors and/or links (hover over the link to see where it is being directed).

  • Protect your sensitive personal identification information (PII). PII is any information that can be used by cybercriminals to locate or identify an individual like your name, address, phone numbers, date of birth, social security number, IP address, etc. In today’s social media world, you should be very cautious about the information you include or share online. Minimize the information you share about yourself on social media sites. Review your privacy settings on all your social media accounts. The more information you share about yourself drastically increases your risk of being “hacked.”

  • Use your mobile devices safely. According to a recent study by McAfee, another leading computer security software company, mobile devices are now target to more than 1.5 million new incidents of mobile malware. Some tips to help keep your mobile devices safe include create difficult passwords, only install apps from trusted sources, keep devices updated, avoid sending PII or sensitive information over text message or email and perform routine mobile backups using iCloud or Enabling Backup & Synch from Android.

The Chip Cards are Coming!

In a continual effort to reduce fraudulent credit card charges and increase security, the credit card companies are moving away from magnetic-stripe cards, which are easier to counterfeit, and towards the EMV chip card as soon as possible.

According to a recent report by Barclays, almost half of the world’s credit card fraud happens in the United States, even though only a quarter of all credit card transactions occur here. This statistic, in addition to the Target and Neiman Marcus security breaches, are the major motivators behind the changeover.

In an attempt to reduce this statistic and future breaches in security, the EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip card is already being rolled out across the U.S., and by October of 2015 merchants will be pretty much forced (see below) to upgrade their machines.

These cards, which have been status quo for in EU and Canada for several years, are manufactured with a small integrated circuit or chip in the card. Payment data (name, billing address, phone number, etc.) is read from this chip instead of the magnetic stripe. This chip protects against fraud in two ways: making it more difficult and expensive to counterfeit and varying the way the data is transmitted each time the card is read. Consequently, while the magnetic-stripe card can be skimmed easily, chip information will be much harder to garner.

Processing device providers are promising to make the transition for their customers (merchants) as flawless and cost-effective as possible. They are also working on several solutions for their Square Stand customers.

Chip cards will not be swiped in the same way as the magnetic-stripe cards, hence the new processing equipment. The cards are inserted into the payment device and left in place for the entire transaction as the reader and the card talk back and forth.

Although this new measure goes a long way to thwart fraud, it will not provide any added protection against the card-not-present transaction, i.e. purchases online or over the phone.

Even though merchants will have the option of using their current processing technology because the new chip cards will still have the magnetic stripe as a backup, starting in October 2015, the liability for fraud will shift to the cardholder and the merchant. In other words, since the EMV terminal could have theoretically prevented the fraud, the liability now falls on the user (the customer) and the processor (the merchant/business).

The timeline for the EMV Chip Card Liability Shift in the U.S.

October 1, 2015 – Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover liability shift to POS terminals.

October 1, 2016 – MasterCard liability shift for ATMs.

October 1, 2017 – Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover liability shift to pay-at-pump gas stations, as well as for Visa and American Express at ATMs.

Awareness is Your Best Defense

With the growth of e-commerce, consumer online presence and email communication, scammers have also adapted to leverage this medium to con people into providing personal and financial information. One of the most common mechanisms is “phishing.”

Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to steal information, such as usernames, passwords, financial details, etc. by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Some examples of this would include someone pretending to be social media website, a bank site, an auction site, an online payment processor or an IT administrator – the most popular culprits.

Phishing is typically done through email. The email has the look and feel of the legitimate sender. Phishing emails almost always instruct the recipient to click on a link that is contained in the email. This is a fake link that takes you to a fake website where the scammer – cybercriminal gathers your personal information.

>What to look for in a phishing email:

>Generic greetings.

>Forged links.

>Requests for personal information.

>A Sense of urgency – making the recipient believe that something has happened that requires their immediate attention.

>Incorrect spelling and bad grammar.

>Links in email.

>Threats – telling you that your security has been compromised and that you must act immediately to correct it.

>Spoofing websites or companies – scam artists use graphics in the email that appear to be connected with legitimate websites, taking you to phony sites or legitimate-looking pop-up windows. They also use web addresses that resemble names of well-known companies but are slightly altered.

Phishing is big business. As the world gets ready for the XXII Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, so are the professional scammers. On the heels of the recent payments breach at Target Corp., cybercriminals have already begun targeting the customers affected by the breach, sending fraudulent emails, pretending to act on Target’s behalf, attempting to get personal information.

Quite unfortunately, in a digital world, the safest practice is to trust no one. The Internet is a wonderful too. But we must use it wisely – think before you click and keep in mind:

>No reputable company or organization will ask for your confidential information via email.

>Never click on a link in an email that asks you to give your personal information.

>Never reply to a popup message to provide information.

>Review you accounts (banking, credit cards, etc.) regularly.

>Always check the authenticity of the website.

>Never provide personal or confidential information to “http” links. Look for “https” links and the SSL lock symbol in the browser.

If you suspect that you have received a phishing email, contact the real company and report it to antiphishing.com, the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.com or the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI website.

Staying Safe During the Holiday Season

As we begin the hustle and bustle this time of year is so famous for, don’t let your holidays be ruined by becoming a victim of a crime.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the “peace on earth, good will toward men” attitude. So with a little common sense and practicing the following safety tips, you can ensure your holiday is filled with happiness and celebration.

  • Use your ATM card wisely – When using your ATM card, make sure to be observant. Look around for any suspicious persons or activity.
  • What’s in your wallet – Losing your wallet can be a disaster for your holiday and a field day for an identity thief. Limit the amount of confidential information you carry in your wallet. Never carry account numbers, PIN numbers, a passport or your social security card. Most importantly, never set your wallet/purse down – unless your hand is attached to it.
  • Parking – Always park in a well-lit area and take note of where you’ve parked. Lock your car and close your windows (also while driving). When you return to your vehicle, have your keys in hand and when you approach your vehicle look around you for anyone or anything that looks suspicious. Make sure to scan the interior and exterior (especially underneath the car) from a distance to be sure no one is hiding.
  • Packages – Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It’s important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid potential mishaps. Lock all your packages out of sight in the trunk.
  • Cash – Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a credit or debit card when possible. Notify your credit card company or bank immediately if your credit or debit card is stolen or has been fraudulently used.
  • Children – Make sure to go over a plan with your children ahead of time concerning what to do should you become separated while shopping. Never allow them to go to the parking lot or the car alone.
  • Scams – Be aware of anything that sounds too good – the “good deal” scams.
  • At home – Be extra cautious during the holidays. Make sure to always lock your doors and windows when you leave the house – even if it’s for only a few minutes. Leave lights on and music or the TV so the house appears to be occupied. Don’t have large displays of holiday gifts in open view of windows and doors. If you go away for the holidays make sure your home appears “lived in.” Purchase an automatic timer for your lights. Have a trusting neighbor watch your home and pick up your newspapers and mail while you are away. In addition, if you use lights on your Christmas tree, make sure they are in good working order and don’t leave them on while you’re not at home.
  • Drive defensively – Traffic is heavier during the holidays and drivers may also be indulged in too many holiday libations.
  • Parties – When hosting a party, find alternative transportation for guests who have had too much to drink; and if you are going out, please remember, Don’t Drink and Drive.

I hope by utilizing these helpful holiday tips, you and yours will have a safe and blessed holiday season!

 

 

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