Since 2003, October has been observed as National Cybersecurity Awareness month. The initiative started because of the mainstream use of the internet. Today, most Americans use the internet everyday for one thing or another. Modern day thieves use the internet too. They will hack and scam people through digital devices and the internet. To help protect you from cyber attacks, we’ve compiled some tips from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies website.
Social Media Bots
Social media bot programs imitate real users posting. These bots can be used to represent fake commercial businesses, to spread false news, to harass users with overwhelming amounts of content and more. Always look up social media businesses on the internet to find out if it is a legitimate business before you engage. If you see news on social media, double-check the source and the facts. If you think someone you are friends with on social media is actually a social bot, unfriend them – an account with an abnormally high volume of posts and/or messages can be deactivated.
Even though most social platforms allow users to delete their posts, photos, and information, other people don’t delete them from their memory. Some people will even take screenshots of posts as evidence to show family, friends, employers and, in extreme cases, lawyers. Posts about upcoming or current vacations enable thieves to rob your home with the comforting knowledge that no one will be there. Don’t rely on the delete button to save you. Think carefully before you share personal information and opinions on the internet.
Most smartphone owners use 30-40 apps per month. Some apps record your data for illegal purposes. Don’t download or use apps that seem suspicious. Other people sometimes report on bad experiences so read the reviews if you aren’t sure if you should trust it. Check you app permissions. Few apps really need to access your contacts or photos. Finally, uninstall unused and under-used apps.
Online shopping has become a staple for most of us. Even if you trust the company you’re purchasing from, your information can still be stolen by hackers. These hackers put a skimming code on web pages through networks, third-party downloads or by working internally. The skimming code basically takes a screenshot of the page which asks for your credit card information and sends it to the hacker. Consumers should keep anti-virus software on all their devices. While it won’t prevent your information from being stolen using credit cards rather than debit cards can greatly reduce the amount of damage a hacker can do since credit cards eventually max out.
Whether you’re out of the state or out of the country, you will likely be accessing unfamiliar internet networks. Public networks provided by fast food restaurants and hotels aren’t secure. Keeping anti-virus software up to date is critical. Auto connect is a feature that tethers smartphone users to available public networks automatically. You can end up on a network that you aren’t even using when this feature is on so be sure to turn it off when you’re traveling.
To learn more about cybersecurity, visit www.niccs.us-cert.gov/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-2019.