Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team
RSN™ Guide: Simple Steps for Internet Safety
Updated: August 2018
In today’s digital world, online safety should be of paramount concern for all individuals and organizations because the threats posed by cybercriminals can’t be ignored. And to counteract these threats, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks associated with doing any kind of business online, surfing the Internet, and/or sharing information on social media sites.
The first step to greater Internet safety is a basic yet vital one—change online passwords several times a year. Use different passwords for each online account, and make them unique but not easily guessed.
Additional levels of cybersecurity, like two-factor authentication (TFA), can provide even greater protection for your information. TFA is a technology that increases security by incorporating requirements beyond a password, like a particular physical trait, a dynamic PIN, or the location or time of a login attempt. Many e-mail service providers and social media platforms offer TFA as a free service—most require a strong password and supply a PIN that changes periodically. Users can receive these PINs easily via mobile applicationsApplications Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing. or text messages.
In terms of social media, remember that once personal or organizational information has been posted to a social networking site, that information can no longer be considered private and can be—and sometimes is—used for criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. purposes. The highest security settings on an Internet account may not be enough to prevent a leak of sensitive data—for example, cybercriminals often can obtain personal passwords regardless of their complexity. In doing so, they can gain access to banking credentials and credit card numbers, get hold of social security information, download malwareMalware Short for "malicious software," this term means computer viruses and other types of programs that cybercriminals use to disrupt or access your computer, typically with the aim of gathering sensitive files and accounts. to a computer, or hijack a device to perpetrate further crimes. So be careful—post as little personal information as possible, use two-factor authentication and beware of embedded links that—if clicked on—may lead to scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. webpages and malware being downloaded to your computer or mobile device.
Another level of online security involves protecting your mobile devices from cyber intruders in public places. Not all WiFi hotspots at coffee shops, airports, or hotels have strong security protections. Persons in close proximity may be able to access that open network and collect your login information and the content of your online browsing. Securing your phone or tablet is as simple as avoiding sensitive sites that require a login, so try to avoid signing into bank accounts, e-mail, or social media accounts while on a public WiFi hotspot. But if you have to, use a reliable personal virtual private network (VPNVPN A VPN (also known as a proxy) is an app or connection method that keeps your internet connection private, whether you're connecting to unsafe public Wi-Fi or your network at home. Having a layer of security that blocks people from watching you browse helps keep you safe online, no matter where you connect from. Virtual private networks protect you by creating an encrypted "tunnel" that all of your device's data travels through on its way to the internet via a proxy server or service. Encryption turns words and data, like text files, into a secret code. If someone tries to read encrypted data without the password, they'll see random gibberish.) service provider. A VPN enables data encryption and adds a layer of security to communications, making it more difficult for cyber criminals to spy on you.
An out-of-band backup is another useful cyber security technique. This involves backing up your data to a virtual, cloud environment or storing hard copies of digital data at a physical location elsewhere. Using this method is ideal in combating ransomwareRansomware Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim's personal data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system so that it is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion. It encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. In a properly implemented cryptoviral extortion attack, recovering the files without the decryption key is an intractable problem – and difficult to trace digital currencies such as paysafecard or Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are used for the ransoms, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators difficult. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan virus disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment. However, one high-profile example, the WannaCry worm, traveled automatically between computers without user interaction., a type of malware which restricts access to files or threatens their destruction unless a ransomRansom A ransom is an amount of money or other assets of value that is paid for blackmail, extortion, or under other threats or coercion. The ransom is usually paid in cash or now in cryptocurrency. Online blackmail, sextortion, and ransomware all demand ransoms to avoid negative outcomes. is paid to the cyber-based
Kids, too, can learn steps to Internet safety through the FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud.’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) program. SOS is a nationwide initiative designed to educate children from grades 3 to 8 about the dangers faced when surfing the web. SOS promotes good cyber citizenship among students by engaging them in a fun, age-appropriate, competitive online program where they learn how to safely and responsibly use the Internet.
Though myriad methods and tools exist to protect the public and organizations from the risks of cybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks., your best defense is understanding and implementing strong security practices and maintaining them regularly. Doing so can raise a perpetual firewall against cyber criminals and keep your sensitive data safe.
More Internet Safety Tips
- Protect your computer. Keep your firewall turned on, and make sure your antivirus and antispyware software is up to date and your operating system is current. And be very careful what you download—opening an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know or even forwarded attachments from people you do know could potentially infect your computer with malicious code.
- Beware of social media scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.. One of those scams involves posts on social media sites appearing to offer vouchers or gift cards that require you to fill out a survey, but that survey is designed to steal your personal information. Also, don’t post pictures of theater, concert, or sporting event tickets on social media—fraudsters can create a fake ticket using the barcode obtained from the photo.
- Smartphone App Scams. Before downloading an app from an unknown source, look for third-party reviews. Some appsApps Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing., often disguised as games and offered for free, may be designed to steal personal information from your device.
- Be on the lookout for online shopping scams. Scammers often defraud consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing e-mails or advertisements on untrusted websites—including offers for brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promises of gift cards as incentives to purchase products. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details in the process, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.
- Don’t fall for work-from-home scams. You may see websites or postings offering work you can do from the comfort of your own home, but many of these opportunities have unscrupulous motivations behind them. Always carefully research the job posting and the individual or company offering you employment.
As always, if you suspect you’ve been the victim of a cybercrime, contact law enforcement and file a criminal complaint.
Portions sourced from United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?
It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
- Your National Police or FBI (www.IC3.gov)
- The ScarsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
Visit our NEW Main SCARS™ News & Information Facebook page for much more information about scams and online crime: www.facebook.com/SCARS.News.And.Information
To learn more about SCARS visit www.AgainstScams.org
Please be sure to report all scammers HERE or on www.Anyscam.com
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