Washington County Sheriff - Intenet Safety Articles

 

Using the Internet is a common thing in life today. We do our online banking, begin searching the web, playing games and more. Many times we find ourselves on the road with our laptops or use one at a facility without considering the onsequences. These articles will give you tips and tricks on how to stay safe and keep your computer virus-free.


Common Fraud Schemes Against Seniors

The FBI’s Common Fraud Schemes webpage provides tips on how to protect you and your family from fraud. Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
  • People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
  • When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.

Internet Fraud
As web use among senior citizens increases, so does their chances to fall victim to Internet fraud. Internet Fraud includes non-delivery of items ordered online and credit and debit card scams. Please visit the FBI’s Internet Fraud webpage for details about these crimes and tips for protecting yourself from them.

Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products

Tips for Avoiding Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for “Secret Formulas” or “Breakthroughs.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the product. Find out exactly what it should and should not do for you.
  • Research a product thoroughly before buying it. Call the Better Business Bureau to find out if other people have complained about the product.
  • Be wary of products that claim to cure a wide variety of illnesses—particularly serious ones—that don’t appear to be related.
  • Be aware that testimonials and/or celebrity endorsements are often misleading.
  • Be very careful of products that are marketed as having no side effects.
  • Question products that are advertised as making visits to a physician unnecessary.
  • Always consult your doctor before taking any dietary or nutritional supplement.

Investment Schemes
As they plan for retirement, senior citizens may fall victim to investment schemes. These may include advance fee schemes, prime bank note schemes, pyramid schemes, and Nigerian letter fraud schemes. Please visit the Common Fraud Schemes webpage for more information about these crimes and tips for protecting yourself from them.

Reverse Mortgage Scams
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) urge consumers, especially senior citizens, to be vigilant when seeking reverse mortgage products. Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), have increased more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.

In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams. Seniors are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.

A legitimate HECM loan product is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. It enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance. See the FBI/HUD Intelligence Bulletin for specific details on HECMs as well as other foreclosure rescue and investment schemes.

Tips for Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment.
  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.
  • Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.
  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor.

 Article by:   http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors

 

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CROSS BORDER FRAUD

Cross-Border Fraud
Cross-border fraud is a serious problem - and it appears to be growing. Today, the Internet and cell phones make it easy for victims to be targeted from anywhere in the world.

What To Do


Know who you’re dealing with.
Try to find a seller’s physical address (not just a P.O. Box) and phone number. With internet phone services and other web-based technologies, it’s tough to tell where someone is calling from. Do an internet search for the company name and website, and look for negative reviews. If you find them, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk. After all, it’s only a good deal if you actually get a product that works.

Understand that wiring money is like sending cash.
Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or family friend in an emergency who wants to keep the request a secret.

Read your monthly statements.
Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services without your authorization. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately.

Give only to established charities after a disaster.
In the aftermath of a disaster, give to established charities, rather than one that has sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities probably don’t have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity. For more donating tips, check out ftc.gov/charityfraud.

Talk to your doctor before you buy health products or treatments.
Ask about research that supports a product’s claims — and possible risks or side effects. Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies. Otherwise, you could end up with products that are fake, expired, or mislabeled — in short, products that could be dangerous to your health.

When investing, remember there’s no sure thing.
If someone contacts you with low-risk, high-return investment opportunities, stay away. When you hear pitches that insist you act now, that guarantee big profits, that promise little or no financial risk, or that demand that you send cash immediately, report them at ftc.gov.


What Not To Do

Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.
Not an online seller you’ve never heard of — nor an online love interest who asks for money. It’s best to do business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using an option that provides protection, like a credit card.

If you think you’ve found a good deal, but you aren’t familiar with the company, do some research. Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” See what comes up – on the first page of results as well as on the later pages.

Never pay fees now for the promise of a big pay-off later — whether it’s for a loan, a job, or a so-called prize.

Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back.
No matter how convincing the story. By law, banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You’re responsible for the checks you deposit: If a check turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for paying back the bank.
Don’t reply to messages asking for personal or financial information.

That goes whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone numbers included in the message, either. It’s called phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a message like this and you are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card — or your statement — and check on it.

Don’t play a foreign lottery.
It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery. And yet messages that tout your chances of winning a foreign lottery, or messages that claim you’ve already won can be so tempting. Inevitably, you’re asked to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you send money to collect, you haven’t won anything. Indeed, you’ve lost whatever money you sent. You won’t get any money back, either, regardless of the promises.

Report Online Scams
If you think you may have been scammed:

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you are outside the U.S., file a complaint at econsumer.gov. Complaints are entered into the Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Visit ftc.gov/idtheft, where you’ll find out how to minimize your risk of identity theft.
  • Report scams to your State Attorney General.

If you get unsolicited email offers or spam, send the messages to spam@uce.gov.
If you get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the postal mail, give it to your local postmaster.

 

 

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Email and Web Scams

When you read email or surf the Internet, you should be wary of scams that try to steal your personal information (identity theft), your money or both. Many of these scams are known as "phishing scams" because they "fish" for your information.

How to recognize scams
New scams seem to appear every day. You can learn to recognize a scam by familiarizing yourself with some of the telltale signs.

Scams can contain the following:

  • Alarmist messages and threats of account closures.
  • Promises of money for little or no effort.
  • Deals that sound too good to be true.
  • Requests to donate to a charitable organization after a disaster that has been in the news.
  • Bad grammar and misspellings.

Popular scams

Here are some popular scams that you should be aware of:

Scams that use the Microsoft name or names of other well-known companies. These scams include fake email messages or websites that use the Microsoft name. The email message might claim that you have won a Microsoft contest, that Microsoft needs your logon information or password, or that a Microsoft representative is contacting you to help you with your computer. (These fake tech-support scams are often delivered by phone.)

Lottery scams. You might receive messages that claim that you have won the Microsoft lottery or sweepstakes. These messages might even look like they come from a Microsoft executive. There is no Microsoft Lottery. Delete the message.

Rogue security software scams. Rogue security software, also known as "scareware," is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure you into participating in fraudulent transactions. These scams can appear in email, online advertisements, your social networking site, search engine results, or even in pop-up windows on your computer that might appear to be part of your operating system, but are not.

How to report a scam

You can use Microsoft tools to report a suspected scam.

  • Internet Explorer. While you are on a suspicious site, click the gear icon and then point to Safety. Then click Report Unsafe Website and use the web page that is displayed to report the website.
  • Hotmail. If you receive a suspicious email message that asks for personal information, click the check box next to the message in your Hotmail inbox. Click Mark as and then point to Phishing scam.
  • Microsoft Office Outlook. Attach the suspicious email message to a new email message and forward it to reportphishing@antiphishing.org.
  • What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam

If you suspect that you've responded to a phishing scam with personal or financial information, take these steps to minimize any damage.

  • Change the passwords or PINs on all your online accounts that you think might be compromised.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Check with your bank or financial adviser if you're not sure how to do this.
  • Contact the bank or the online merchant directly. Do not follow the link in the fraudulent email message.
  • If you know of any accounts that were accessed or opened fraudulently, close those accounts.
  • Routinely review your bank and credit card statements monthly for unexplained charges or inquiries that you didn't initiate.

Tools to help you avoid scams

Microsoft offers several tools to help you avoid phishing scams when you browse the Web or read your email.

  • Windows Internet Explorer. In Internet Explorer 8, the domain name in the address bar is emphasized with black type and the remainder of the address appears gray to make it easy to identify a website's true identity. The SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer also gives you warnings about potentially unsafe websites as you browse.
  • Windows Live Hotmail. Microsoft's free webmail program also uses SmartScreen technology to screen email. SmartScreen helps identify and separate phishing threats and other junk email from legitimate email.
  • Microsoft Office Outlook. The Junk E-mail Filter in Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007 and other Microsoft email programs evaluates each incoming message to see if it includes suspicious characteristics common to phishing scams.

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Fake Websites

When doing a search on the Internet for a product or information, be sure you are going to a legitimate website.  Many hackers and devious people will create a website that looks just like the original site, but theirs will gather your personal information and/or plant a virus on your computer.  To determine whether a website is legitimate or not:

  • Look at the site's domain registration information at www.whois.net.
    If the site is official, the company's information should be listed as the domain owner.
  • Make sure the URL domain is correct when you visit the site.
    Don’t click on any images or links on the site until you know it is the real thing (this is where many virus’ are hiding).

  • Always look for the padlock icon.
    When a site is secure, you'll see a padlock in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. Look for the lock before you enter any private information, including your password.
  • A good way to see before you click on a website is to install a free software product that will tell you if the site is safe or not.  It is called Web Of Trust (WOT).  You can go to http://www.mywot.com/ to learn more.  Sometimes a new website has not been rated, if you know the site and trust it’s source, you can join WOT and rank the site.  It’s worth your time to be safe.

 

Article written by: Helen Neal
http://www.hlnwebdesigns.com

 


INTERNET AUCTION FRAUD

Don't Let it Happen to You

These are just a few of the items offered for sale every day on legitimate online auction sites. They’re also just a small sample of the items used to lure unsuspecting victims into online auction fraud schemes.

Most of the one million-plus transactions that take place each day on these websites are legitimate; just a fraction actually result in some type of fraud.
But even that fraction adds up. According to the latest report of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), more than 70,000 complaints made to IC3 last year—about one in every four—involved online auction scams.

There are a variety of auction frauds, but here are some of the more common ones to watch out for:

  • Overpayment fraud targets the seller. A seller advertises a high-value item—like a car or a computer—on the Internet. A scammer contacts the seller to purchase the item, then sends the seller a counterfeit check or money order for an amount greater than the price of the item. The purchaser asks the seller to deposit the payment, deduct the actual sale price, and then return the difference to the purchaser.
  • Wire transfer schemes start with fraudulent and misleading ads for the sale of high-value items being posted on well-known online auction sites. When buyers take the bait, they are directed to wire money to the crooks using a money transfer company. Once the money changes hands, the buyer never hears from them again.
  • Second-chance schemes involve scammers who offer losing bidders of legitimate auctions the opportunity to buy the item(s) they wanted at reduced prices. They usually require that victims send payment through money transfer companies, but then don’t follow through on delivery.

And needless to say, in all of these schemes customers never get what they pay for.

Who is behind the scams. Mostly individuals. However, there are exceptions: criminal enterprises from West Africa are especially fond of the overpayment scams, while Romanian crime groups favor the second-chance schemes.
We’re working to address the problem. We’ve had a number of successful auction fraud investigations, worked collaboratively with other agencies, including one in Virginia and one in Texas.

What to do if you’ve been victimized. Go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Federal Trade Commission websites and submit a complaint. The more we know about the extent of the crime—including the specific methods being used to perpetrate it—the more effective we can be in preventing and investigating these scams. You can also report incidents to your local police and to auction companies.

So, how can you avoid being a victim of auction fraud? A few tips:

  • Ask the seller for a phone number and verify it.
  • Beware of buyers who insist on wire transfers as the only form of payment they’ll accept.
  • For big-ticket items, use a legitimate online escrow service that will hold the payment until you receive what you’ve ordered.
  • If you receive an overpayment as a seller, don't cash it but instead ask for the exact purchase price.
  • Don’t ever give out your social security or driver’s license number—a legitimate seller wouldn’t ask.
  • Be skeptical if the price sounds too low.

Article from: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2009/june/auctionfraud_063009

 

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INTERNET PRIVACY

Go anywhere on the Internet and you are assured you are being followed, unless this is the first time you are on your computer.  Even then the chances of you doing any type of Web search will automatically begin the transaction of saving information into your computer and on your search site of everywhere you have been or will go on the Internet.

At times this can be nice.  You go to a site, find what you want, but a week later you realize you need to revisit the site.  Now where was it and how do I find it again?  This is where cookies on your computer come in handy.  These little bytes of information will tell you what you want to know by just going to the Internet and select “recent visits”.

On the other hand, many sites are selling information they gather on visitors to marketing companies.  If you regularly go to health and nutrition sites, you may begin to see these types of ads popping up any time you are on a site with ads.  Coincidence?  Not at all, you have been tracked as to where you are going on the Internet through your Internet server, your web search engine, etc.  Most of the time they are only collecting information so marketers can be guided to give you what you like and normally search for on the Internet.

To be sure you know you are on a safe site, look for the site’s privacy policy.  By law it must be clearly listed and a link at least should be found on the home page.  Read the Privacy statement on any website you intend to do business with.  Make sure they state if they are collecting data and if there is a way to opt out.  The Privacy Statement should give the full name of the owners of the site (company name) and contact information via email, phone and/or snail mail. 

A privacy policy is a disclosure document, whose purpose is to inform visitors. When it comes to consumer protection, the FTC and state attorneys general have jurisdiction, and even absent any other applicable laws about privacy the enforcers can and do sue and fine sites whose privacy policies are well-meaning but wrong.  So not only do you need to read the policy on the website, check for a statement that says they will not share any personal information with a third party.  It’s almost impossible to do this.  Anyone who collects data, even if you signed up for their newsletter, will undoubtedly use a database on a web server that will often be through a third party.  It’s not that they will do anything to lose customers by stealing the information; it’s just that you need to realize that very few sites don’t incorporate a third party to assist them with database set up and processing.

Article copyright © 2010-2013

Written by:  Helen Neal, Web Designer
http://www.hlnwebdesigns.com

 

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INTERNET TIPS FOR SENIORS

Surfing the Internet is fun and informative, but there are sites that can crash your computer and steal your information.  Here are some things to consider when you get on your computer:

  • Have you ever received an email from a friend that asks you to “check out this website for important information”?  Never click on a link to someplace you are not familiar with.  Call the friend and ask what is so important about the website?  You may be surprised to find out they never sent the email.  Many email viruses attach themselves to a person’s contacts address book and send their own email to everyone on your list!  You know nothing about it, but because it looks like it’s coming from you, people open it and get scammed or get a computer virus themselves. 
  • Or do you get email from companies or strangers that promise an exciting offer if you “click on the link below”?  Never trust a link sent to you by someone you don’t know. By clicking the link you may be taken to a site that may look like your bank or credit card company, but isn’t. One thing a criminal can’t fake is the actual website address of a company or bank. Instead of clicking a link in an e-mail, search for the Web address using a search engine to find the real one. Use that to ask the company about the message you received, or call using the number listed on your statements. Mark the real site as a favorite in your browser so that you can click on it and be safe when you want to go to that site.
  • Never trust an e-mail that asks for your personal or account information (called a phishing scam). These usually seem convincing (the shabby ones have spelling errors, but the high quality scams look impeccable). No bank or reputable company is going to send you an e-mail asking you to correct your information, validate your identity, re-enter your password, and so on.
  • The smarter scams often contain text warning you against fraud. They do this because many people believe that an e-mail that warns them to be careful must be legitimate. That is not always true. This also extends to sites that claim they have protections in place for your privacy and security. Anybody can make these claims, but only certain sites protect you.
  • Never respond – or even open an e-mail with a deal that is too good to be true unless it is from a company that you know well and expect to get these kinds of offers from them.  Scammers want you to react without taking time to think things through, so their e-mails frequently sound urgent, such as:
    •  …“if we don’t hear by tomorrow your account will be closed” (and you’ll notice that the date of “tomorrow” never is listed).
    • …”this offer won’t last, order now to ensure”…
  • Never believe that someone you don’t know is going to give you money.
  • Do not believe a person from another country who asks you to “help transfer funds” by giving them your bank account number to do so. Such scammers promise to give you a huge amount of money for helping them out.  The result is an empty bank account for you.
  • If you never entered a lottery, you did not win the lottery. Such scams ask you to provide your information and bank account number so they can transfer your prize money. Don’t do it. The result is an empty bank account.
  • Don’t believe a really rich, famous person just wants to help you out… and that the celebrity also mysteriously needs your address, phone number, bank account information to do so. The result is an empty bank account.
  • Guard your information well. It is better to be rude than to be ripped off, so demand validation, verification, and authentication before giving your information to anyone. If you still feel uneasy, say no or check further.

http://www.atg.wa.gov/InternetSafety/Seniors.aspx

 


Protect Your Privacy Online

Protect your privacy and avoid identity theft.
Cyber security, phishing, worms, firewalls, Trojan horses, hackers, and viruses seem to be in the news every day. Plus warnings to update your virus protection, watch out for online scams, protect your privacy, and watch what you click on are everywhere. But what does it all mean? And what can you do to safeguard access to your computer and to protect yourself and your family? What is this all about?

The first step in protecting yourself is to recognize the risks and become familiar with some of the terminology associated with cyber security. The Department of Homeland Security created this list of terms: Hacker, attacker, or intruder - These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain. Although their intentions are sometimes fairly benign and motivated solely by curiosity, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems they are exploiting. The results can range from mere mischief (creating a virus with no intentionally negative impact) to malicious (stealing or altering information).
Malicious code includes code such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they have unique characteristics:

  • Viruses - This type of malicious code requires you to actually do something before it infects your computer. This action could be opening an email attachment or going to a particular web page.
  • Worms - Worms propagate without you r doing anything. They typically start by exploiting a software vulnerability (a flaw that allows the software's intended security policy to be violated). Then once the victim computer has been infected, the worm will attempt to find and infect other computers. Similar to viruses, worms can propagate via email, web sites, or network-based software. The automated self-propagation of worms distinguishes them from viruses.
  • Trojan horses - A Trojan horse program is software that claims to do one thing while, in fact, doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending your confidential information to an intruder.
  • Spyware - This sneaky software rides its way onto computers when you download screensavers, games, music, and other applications. Spyware sends information about what you're doing on the Internet to a third-party, usually to target you with pop-up ads. Browsers enable you to block pop-ups. You can also install anti-spyware to stop this threat to your privacy.

Minimize the Access Other People Have to Your Information

It is probably easy for you to identify people who could gain physical access to your computer—family members, roommates, co-workers, members of a cleaning crew, and maybe some others. But identifying the people who could gain remote access to your computer becomes much more difficult. As long as you have a computer and connect it to a network or the internet, you are vulnerable to someone or something else accessing or corrupting your information. Luckily, you can develop habits that make it more difficult.

  • Lock or log-off your computer when you are away from it. This prevents another person from waiting for you to leave and then sitting down at your computer and accessing all of your information.
  • To be really secure, disconnect your computer from the Internet when you aren't using it. DSL and cable modems make it possible for users to be online all the time, but this convenience comes with risks. The likelihood that attackers or viruses scanning the network for available computers will target your computer becomes much higher if your computer is always connected.
  • Evaluate your security settings. It is important to examine your computer's settings, especially the security settings, and select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased risk. Many, but not all Internet providers offer free security software. If you don't receive free software, you should consider buying a commercial product that includes virus scan, firewall, and pop-up blockers. You should also be aware of your Internet cookies setting. Cookies are short pieces of data used by web servers to identify users. Some cookies are useful for storing images and data from websites that you frequent, but others are malicious and collect information about you. You'll have to decide how much risk from cookies you can accept. Finally, if you install a patch or a new version of software, or if you hear of something that might affect your settings, reevaluate your settings to make sure they are still appropriate.
  • Look for a privacy policy statement or seal that indicates the site abides by privacy standards. Take time to read how your privacy is protected.
  • Look for signals that you are using a secure web page. A secure site encrypts or scrambles personal information so it cannot be easily intercepted. Signals include a screen notice that says you are on a secure site, a closed lock or unbroken key in the bottom corner of your screen, or the first letters of the Internet address you are viewing changes from "http" to "https."

Do You Think You are a Victim?

  • If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
  • If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
  • Check your credit reports for unusual activity.
  • Report your situation to local police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission

Article by USA.gov
http://www.usa.gov/topics/family/privacy-protection/online.shtml


Stay Safe Online

Practice good online safety habits with these tips and advice:

Keep A Clean Machine.

  • Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Protect Your Personal Information.

  • Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
  • Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
  • Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
  • Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit who you share information with.

Connect With Care.

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

Be Web Wise.

  • Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
  • Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

Be a Good Online Citizen.

  • Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
  • Post only about others as you have them post about you.
  • Help the authorities fight cyber crime: 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.


Practice STOP. THINK. CONNECT. and encourage others to do it as well. 

 
Article from: Stay Safe Online.org - By National Cyber Security Alliance.

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Teaching Computer Security

Talk to your kids about:

  • Protecting their personal information. Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords are examples of information to keep private.
  • Watching out for "free" stuff. Free games, ring tones, or other downloads can hide malware. Tell your kids not to download anything unless they trust the source and they've scanned it with security software.
  • Using strong email passwords and protect them. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Personal information, your login name, common words, or adjacent keys on the keyboard are not safe passwords. Kids can protect their passwords by not sharing them with anyone, including their friends.

In addition, be sure your family computers are protected by reputable security software and use these basic computer security practices.

P2P File Sharing

Some kids share music, games, or software online. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing allows people to share these kinds of files through an informal network of computers running the same software. P2P file-sharing has risks:

  • You could accidentally provide many people with access to your private files.
  • If your kids download copyrighted material, you could get mired in legal issues.
  • A shared file could hide spyware, malware, or pornography.

Here are some tips to help your kids share files safely:

  • Install file-sharing software properly. Activate the proper settings so that nothing private is shared.
  • Before your kids open or play any file they’ve downloaded, advise them to use security software to scan it. Make sure the security software is up-to-date and running when the computer is connected to the internet.

Phishing
Phishing is when scam artists send fake text, email, or pop-up messages to get people to share their personal and financial information. Criminals use the information to commit identity theft.
Here are tips you can share with your kids to help them avoid a phishing scam:

  • Don't reply to text, email, or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information, and don't follow any links in the message.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. Unexpected files may contain malware.

Get your kids involved, so they can develop their scam “antennas” and careful internet habits. Look for "teachable moments" — if you get a phishing message, show it to your kids. A demonstration can help them recognize a potential phishing scam and help them understand that messages on the internet aren't always what they seem. Learn more about Phishing.

Apps

Do you — or your kids — download "apps" to a phone or social networking page? Downloading may give the app's developers access to personal information that's not related to the purpose of the app. The developers may share the information they collect with marketers or other companies. Suggest that your kids check the privacy policy and their privacy settings to see what information the app can access. And consider this: Is finding out which cartoon character you are really worth sharing the details of your life — or your children's? Learn more about Mobile Apps.

 

Article by: FTC Consumer Information

 

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Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.

Last Revised: 05/15


 

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