October may be the month for ghosts, goblins and ghouls, but unlike the neighborhood kids ringing your doorbell in search of treats, there are cyber criminals just waiting to play serious tricks on you while you’re surfing, doing business or shopping online.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and your BBB is encouraging people to take cyber precautions now and throughout the year.
There are steps to follow to protect yourself, your personal assets and your private information online. The key is to practice these precautions consistently, and remind family, friends and employees about cyber security steps. Even children can be taught how to take precautions. You are also encouraged to check out a business or charity with the Better Business Bureau online.
Your BBB offers a few tips all Internet users can follow to practice cyber security during NCSAM and throughout the year:
- Set strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone.
- Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.
- Use firewalls and anti-virus software.
- Limit the amount of personal information you post on social media sites or other online forums and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
- Take steps to protect your personal and financial data by locking your computer when you step away.
- Disable your Wi-Fi connection and turn off your computer or modem whenever you’re not online.
- Never ever open attachments or respond to online requests for personal or financial information from someone you don’t know.
- Be wary of ANY email requesting that you verify financial account information online, even if it appears to be from your bank. Always call the bank, at a number you’ve used before, to verify their request.
- Beware of emails or online ads with offers that seem too good to be true. Emails announcing you’ve won a sweepstakes may be phishing for your bank account number. Pop-ups advertising free downloadable software may be disguising spyware or malware.
- Make regular backups of important information on your computer so that all is not lost in the event of an equipment malfunction, an error or a cyber-attack.
If you think you may have become a victim of internet fraud, you are encouraged to file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).