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Cyber Safety

The internet is the identity thief’s playground. Some have gone to great links to set up programs to scam you or obtain valuable information from you. Some of these hackers even invade your personal computer with what appears to be official pop up warnings, such as the FBI scam, which tells you your computer has been locked, and you need to send a “Green Dot” money order to pay some type of penalty for some type of computer crime you committed.

Another cyber scam is a Micro Soft scam which pops up on your computer telling you to send money or call them, because your computer could be at risk and they need money to fix the problem. Both of these are identity thieves at work. Keep in mind if someone is requesting a “Green Dot” money order or card by name, it’s a scam!

Here are some ways to help make your next surfing adventure a little less shark infested.

  • Use a dependable firewall, anti-virus program, as well as an anti Malware program
  • Always keep your security software updated. Never let it lapse. Criminals are always looking for individuals using expired or outdated anti-virus and security programs
  • Explore security options for all internet connected devices, including gaming systems, which most people forget about
  • Make sure mobile devices aren’t set to automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi hot spots, as this can expose you to insecure networks, or a network set up by someone trying to tap into your device
  • Set tablets or mobile phones to automatically lock after 5 minutes or less of non-use
  • Backup you data regularly. If your computer or device is compromised or stolen you’ll have access to all your important files. Consider a cloud based system or an external hard drive for backing your information onto.
  • Create strong passwords using a combination of capital and low case letters, digits, plus special characters
  • Never us the same password repeatedly
  • Don’t open emails from unknown senders
  • Download software and email attachments only from sources you know and trust
  • Don’t stay signed into accounts. When you are finished, log off and close your browser
  • Close all pop-up windows by clicking on the X in the title bar. Consider using a pop-up block to avoid receiving pop-ups

A lot of us use wireless networks/router’s either at home or in our office. You should take the proper steps to secure your wireless network. If you don’t, unauthorized users may be able to access your personal information, as well as launch an attack on any devices accessing the network.

  • Make sure your wireless router’s encryption feature is turned on
  • Make sure the built-in firewall on your wireless router is turned on
  • Router’s come with a default password. Change the password to something harder
  • Turn off your router when you are not using it for an extended period of time. This will keep hackers from trying to access your system.

Next time we will look at different signs of identity theft.

This information was gathered by Sonora Police Chief Mark Stinson from several different sources such as; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Government’s Online Safety Site, Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, as well as the Federal and State Departments of Justice.

The first part of this series is here.
Details to avoid charity scams, info here.
Some of the tactics used by identity thieves
Protecting Bank Card Info is here.
Safeguard your identity info is here.