What are some cybersecurity basics that were mentioned in the Staying Safe Online webinar?
Some basic cybersecurity improvement practices are:
Updating your software: Don’t put off software updates that come due and require a click/restart
Backing up your files: Options for saving files include a flash drive, another computer, and/or a cloud data storage platform such as DropBox or Box
Using secure passwords: Avoid personal data (e.g., birth date) that is already “out there” via social media and patterns such as number and letter sequences; instead, use a combination of characters
Turning on multi-factor authentication: This will require another step to access files with sensitive data (e.g., answering one or more security questions or a special code texted to your phone)
Securing your home network: Have a password to access your network and disclose it sparingly
Using public Wi-Fi securely; Ideally, use your own Wi-Fi (e.g., a mobile hotspot or your cell phone mobile hotspot feature; don’t share sensitive data on public Wi-Fi
What is phishing and how can people avoid it?
Phishing is the term used to describe fake e-mails that appear to come from reputable sources and are designed to solicit personal identification information or PII. Ways to avoid phishing include:
Talking to someone before responding to any requests for information (e.g., friend, family member, work colleague, IT expert, local law enforcement)
Making a call to the reputable source being mentioned in the phishing scam (e.g., bank or retailer)
Searching online for information about possible scams
The webinar mentioned tech support scams. What are they and how do they work?
Tech support scams work just as the name implies. Potential victims receive pop up messages that say that something is wrong with their computer and pretend to be from a “tech company” that promises to fix it. Scammers typically ask for remote access to the victim’s computer or they install malware that gives them access to sensitive data on a victim’s computer. If people think they have a tech support scam problem, they should update their security software, run a scan, and contact a trusted IT professional, if needed.
Social Security and IRS scams are hot right now. How do they work?
Social Security scams contain some type of vague threat or false information such as the suspension of someone’s Social Security Number (SSN) for “suspicious activity.” Potential victims are then asked to “confirm” their SSN by divulging it to fraudsters. Recipients of fraudulent contact should hang up (phone) or delete (computer) these messages. Social Security officials never send threatening letters.
IRS scams abound with many types of tricks and threats. One of the most recent is a “fake debt collector” scheme asking for money to repay old IRS debts. If you truly owe the IRS money for back taxes, you should always pay the IRS and nobody else.
What are some “red flags” of any type of fraud, whether it is online, by phone, or in person?
“Red flags” of any type of fraud include the following actions:
Calls, e-mails, or text messages that request personal identification information or money (simply hang up or delete)
Requests to send money or make payments with gift cards or prepaid cash cards (or to buy gift cards and e-mail their code numbers to fraudsters
Requests to deposit a fraudulent check and wire money back
Pressure to act immediately before you can talk to others or check out information
Anything that “sounds too good to be true,” because it probably is.
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense under Award Number 2019-48770-30366.