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Protect yourself from cyber fraud

Identity theft occurs once every 3 seconds. And device theft occurs every 60 seconds. Illegal revenue from such cyber crimes will surpass $2 trillion by 2019. We have learned a lot about security and information protection in the more than 20 years since the start of the Internet revolution. But cyber fraud/crime is actually increasing at a faster rate than we can keep up with.
In fact a Norton Survey found that 689 million people in 21 countries reported an experience with cyber crime and a related study found 20 percent of those surveyed reported serious repercussions – including job loss, financial loss and reputation damage – when their information was stolen.
Cyber fraud – when personal and financial information is stolen online by a hacker and used in a criminal manner – is a growing problem in both business and private lives. In fact 1% of all financial transactions in the past year in North America were fraudulent, with credit card fraud and identity theft leading the way.
You’ve heard of the security breaches at well-known companies including Yahoo, Target and Home Depot. Just this week Whole Foods announced a security breach affecting customers in their restaurants. And recently Equifax, one of the nation’s top credit reporting agencies, was breached and the data of roughly 143 million consumers was exposed.
Chances are high that cyber fraud will impact you at some point. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. So how can you protect yourself?
First you need to know how thieves steal your info:
Phishing (fake emails)
Skimming devices (card readers)
Malware (computer software)
Data leaks

So what can you do to protect your information? Here are some helpful tips:
Change your password. This is the No. 1 source used to steal information. Your password should be changed every 90 days. There are many free or low-cost online password management programs. Hint: Use a common phrase that you will easily remember as your password and change it with numbers. For example: ilovetoeatpizza123#
Have a secure email. Both Yahoo and AOL have had security breaches in recent years. Experts say that Google mail (Gmail) offers many security features built into their FREE email service. This includes: VPN, 2-factor authentication, password age reset, encryption and more. Bottom line: do not click on suspicious emails, attachments or links.
Stay protected from cyber crime attacks
Encrypt your network and keep it updated. Whether at home or in your business, put up firewalls and load encrypting software to make your devices more difficult to hack. Keep your operating system and antivirus software updated on all devices. Make sure encryption is turned ON on your home Wireless router. If your router is more than a few years old upgrade for maximum encryption technology. Tip: To check this use your smart phone to locate your Wireless network and see if there is a padlock next to it. A padlock is the lowest level of protection on your Wireless router so it’s probably time to upgrade or reset your encryption options.
Be careful with public Wi Fi. In between meetings or weekend family events you stop at a local coffee shop to refuel and use their free Wi Fi. These networks are open to all and not secure. The person at the table next to you could hack into your computer and search documents while you sip your coffee. There are free tools available that allow you to encrypt your browsers while on such networks. Additionally, leaving your Wi Fi and Bluetooth on when not connected to a secure network allows hackers to mimic your home network and steal information.
Biggest cyber hacks of 2017 … so far
Check your credit report often and your bank statements daily. Data is the commodity hackers are after and if yours is breached your money and reputation is at risk. There are companies that offer free and low-cost credit reports to keep your knowledgeable of what is happening with your name and information. Stay knowledgeable of what is on your credit report and bank statements.
Watch your social media. Many of us use social media to stay connected through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. But be mindful of your social media presence and what you post. Oversharing information including birthdays, education history and family relations is information that is commonly used as a security check for password recovery forms. Also hackers often target individuals and organizations with conflicting social and political views. So drawing attention to yourself on an online forum can open you to cyber fraud. Even online gaming is at risk as PlayStation announced in August 2017 that it its accounts were hacked.

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 1:01 pm by Tim and Lisa Carroll

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