October is “National Cyber Security Awareness Month,” which is an annual Homeland Security campaign to raise consumers’ awareness of cyber security.
Cyber security continues to be a growing problem in the U.S.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2015, the agency received approximately 288,000 complaints from consumers who were exposed to online fraud – a six percent increase over the previous year.
In recognition of Cyber Security Awareness Month, the American Bankers Association (ABA) is urging online users to take simple steps to safeguard their personal information, protect their networks and stop fraud.
Fraudsters are using the Internet to facilitate all types of scams. As a result, it is extremely important that online users secure their Internet connection and install the latest security software to lessen their exposure to online threats.
The ABA recommends the following tips while navigating the web:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Create [email protected] passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Never click links or open attachments or pop-up screens from unknown sources. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at [email protected] – and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer the security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.