As we become increasingly dependent on technology, many of us are online several hours per day. This means hackers have more opportunity to steal personal information. The latest Symantec Internet Security Threat Report indicated that in 2015, 430 million new pieces of malware were discovered in which over half a billion personal records were stolen. The same report showed an increase in attacks on mobile devices. As October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month, BBB reminds consumers to watch out for cyber criminals who want to steal your money and your identity.
“Seventy-two percent of Americans think their accounts are secure with only user names and passwords”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “As hackers get more resourceful and data breaches continue, however, user names and passwords are no longer a sufficient solution to secure accounts.”
BBB encourages online users to educate themselves about cyber security risks and offers the following tips to stay safe online:
- Get two steps ahead. Turn on two-step verification on accounts when available. This adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring you to know more than just a password. This is typically a code that is sent to you after accessing your password protected electronic device.
- Connect with Caution. Beware of links in unsolicited emails or those found in ads on social media sites. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi – these networks are not secure. When entering financial or credit card information, be sure that the website is security enabled (https).
- Keep a clean machine. Technology companies such as Apple and Microsoft are constantly making safety updates. Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
- Share with care. Limit your online presence and the information you share. Check privacy settings on social media. Never post personal details anywhere online. Ask permission before tagging photos of friends.
- Secure your smartphone. Be sure to password protect and lock your smartphones. Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not actively in use. Download apps only from trusted sources. And pay attention to cell phone bills, as unauthorized charges and increased data usage may indicate the phone has been hacked.
Cybercrime comes in many forms: online identity theft, financial fraud, hacking, email spoofing, information forgery and intellectual property crime. It can wreak havoc on victims’ lives, and at its worst, cybercrime can lead to financial ruin.
For more information about how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373 or use BBB Scam Tracker.