FBI offers ways to ward off cybercriminals

Internet-enabled crimes and cyber intrusions are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Preventing them requires that every user of a connected device be aware and on guard.

During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the FBI joins in asking every user of a connected device to “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.”

All computer users should keep systems and software up to date and use a good anti-virus program. These programs are not foolproof, however, and computer users themselves often help cybercriminals get through these safeguards. To avoid inadvertently downloading malicious code that can harm your network or give a criminal valuable information, the FBI recommends:

— Examine the email address and URLs in all correspondence. Scammers often mimic a legitimate site or email address by using a slight variation in spelling.

— If an unsolicited text message or email asks to update, check or verify account information, do not follow the link provided in the message itself or call the phone numbers provided in the message. Go to the company’s website to log into your account or call the phone number listed on the official website to see if something does, in fact, need attention.

— Do not open any attachment unless the file, document or invoice was expected and the sender’s email address verified.

— Carefully scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or transfer of funds.

— Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.

— Confirm requests for wire transfers or payment in person or over the phone as part of a two-factor authentication process. Do not verify these requests using the phone number listed in the request for payment.

— Backup data on a regular basis. Secure data by disconnecting backups from the computer and networks. Store in a secure location.

Basic cyber hygiene practices can include:

— Set strong passwords;

— Use multi-factor authentication;

— Use anti-virus software;

— Back up important data on a regular basis;

— Install patches and updates;

— Do not click on links from untrusted sources;

— Avoid using public WiFi for sensitive activities;

— Use privacy settings on social media sites.

Those who believe they have been the victim of a malicious cyber attack can contact the FBI’s Detroit Division at 313-965-2323 or report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. It is crucial the public report Internet-based crime to IC3; each complaint filed is one more piece of a puzzle that might assist law enforcement in solving existing cases or neutralizing new and growing threats.


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