Cybercrime 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 — up from nearly 270,000 in 2014. In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the American Bankers Association 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,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “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.”
ABA recommends the following tips to protect yourself 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 complic@t3d 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. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – 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 those 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.
Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association