Cyber Security Part 1
Con artists are using the Internet as a high-tech method to pitch their products – SCAMS. The rapidly increasing number of memberships to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has opened more doors for hack attacks as well. Consumers may not realize just how vulnerable they are to the scammers. In an effort to help educate consumers, October has been proclaimed National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance (www.staysafeonline.org), there are three things to remember: STOP. THINK. CONNECT. These simple steps are the starting point for staying safer and more secure online.
· STOP: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
· THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your online actions could impact your safety or your family’s safety.
· CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.
To safeguard your personal information and your computer, here are some things to consider:
1. Passwords – you should password protect all of your information online. Passwords should include special characters, lowercase and uppercase letters and numbers. DO NOT use the same passwords for all accounts because if access is gained to one account, they can gain access to all.
2. Secure Sites – be sure when you are providing information online that you are doing so from a secure website. Check to make sure there is an SSL icon (the icon looks like a lock and lights up green) on the bottom right hand corner or top left corner of your browser. This means that there is a secure and encrypted connection between you and the server. In addition, the URL should start https://.
3. Update browsers – make sure you always have the latest updates on your browser and that your anti-viral and anti-malware software is running.
4. Trust your gut – if something doesn’t look right, get out of that site. A misspelled word can get you into a look-alike site that is there for the sole purpose of getting your money.
It is easy to forget that your mobile devices (laptops, smart phones and tablets) are fully functioning computers and must be protected as well. You should take the proper steps to insure the security of these devices by:
· Update the operating system which will often provide you with enhanced features and functions as well as fixes to security bugs.
· Password protect your devices. Password protection dos not limit your ability to answer a call as it is being received, but it will prevent someone from getting access to other functions in your cell phone or tablets.
· Use security software which will allow you to locate missing or stolen phones, back up your data in some cases, remotely wipe data from the device if you choose to do so.
· Make sure the applications that you are installing are from reputable sources.
· Enable encryption programs on your phone to safeguard information stored on the device.
As technology moves forward, it is important that you move forward with the security features when using the internet, whether it is on a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division investigates allegations of fraud in the marketplace. Investigators also mediate individual complaints against businesses. If you have a consumer problem or question, call the Consumer Protection Division at 328-3404, toll-free at 1-800-472-2600, or 1-800-366-688 (w/TTY). This article and other consumer information is located on our website at www.ag.nd.gov.