Do you feel anxious about cybersecurity?
Do you fear having your identity being stolen or becoming a victim of fraud? Have you received unsolicited phone calls about your IRS tax status needing immediate attention and/or email that requests you to click on unknown links? Do you receive a lot of junk email that you can’t stop? Have you had to cancel a credit card because an unauthorized person obtained and used your credit card information to make a purchase? You are not alone! Many families and consumers share the same anxiety.
Many families and consumers fear identity theft and cybersecurity compromises and hope it never happens to them.
We live in a time where we can manage more and more of our resources and daily lives digitally. We don’t need actual cash on hand to make purchases if we have a debit or credit card. Ordering groceries or dinner from the internet is easy. We can on-line holiday shop from home. We can book airline tickets and purchase and print concert tickets too-all from the comfort of our home. We can bank and deposit checks from our cell phones, access email and use social media to keep up-to-date with family and friends. TV’s and home security cameras connect to the internet to enable access to more functions than ever and help keep our families and home safe.
Many of us live in the fast lane and in most cases, can speed across the digital highway to take care of business. We live in times of fear and anxiety for a lot of reasons. No one wants to become a victim of a cybersecurity breach, yet we see it happen on a regular basis. This potential threat can cause anxiety, especially for parents of young children and for the elderly.
1. Avoid using public computers and public Wi-Fi to access sensitive websites such as banking or shopping as your data could be copies or accessed.
2. Do not share passwords, social security number, credit card numbers, etc. unless you are positive the request is legitimate. Do not text passwords, credit card numbers etc. to anyone. Change passwords often. Passwords should be like underwear: don’t share and change them often.
3. Do not plug unknown USB or mobile devices to your computer. Malware can be spread through infected flash drives, hard drives, and even cell phones.
4. Turn your computer off when not in use.
5. Back up your data regularly, and make sure your anti-virus software is always up- to-date.
6. Keep confidential paperwork secure in your home and secure on your devices.
7. Let trusted neighbors know when you will be away. Stop your mail and newspaper delivery. Limit the information you share on social media. You could potentially let someone know your home is vacated or unintentionally let others know your personal information.
8. Again, be savvy and don’t share too much on line.
We have a responsibility to be engaged and alert with what is going on around us even if we are too busy!
Hopefully, one day we will have foolproof cybersecurity and be free from most cases of identity fraud. It doesn’t look like that will be anytime soon. We must be aware and take this seriously.
“Cybersecurity should be on your mind any time you’re using a computer, tablet, or smart phone, and even taking a phone call. Crooks will try to trick you with a phone call, saying your computer is causing problems on the Internet, and they need to help you fix it.”
-Dan Cromer, UF/IFAS Director of Information Technology
For further information on identity theft, fraud, scams and cybersecurity:
UF Information Security, Information Technology
UF/IFAS Extension Broward County- website http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/broward/
UF/IFAS Extension Broward County- blogs https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/
Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information, Identity Theft https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft
Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information, Limiting Unwanted Calls & Emails
Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information, Scams