BBB highlights online safety in Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Better Business Bureau Serving Western Virginia is scaring up the latest on cybersecurity risks and ways to avoid them. Watch out for these spooky dangers lurking in the corners of our everyday digital lives.

BBB has partnered with National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to create and publish many resources designed to promote consumer habits that reinforce personal safety and security. This year’s theme “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”, empowers individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.

Social media platforms are full of scary and suspicious characters. Scammers can get to you through that small screen in your hand – your smartphone. Consumers tend to be less wary on social media channels and scammers are taking shocking advantage of that fact. A scam report based on BBB Scam Tracker data shows that 91% of consumers who said they were exposed to a scam on social media, a whopping 91% engaged with the scammer, and 53% of them lost money.

“Social media platforms are full of suspicious characters,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia. “Be especially careful if you spot offers in your social channels that look too good to be true – it’s most likely a trick, not a treat.”

  • Hacked “smart” devices could haunt your house. In exchange for convenience, people are putting trust in all kinds of online smart devices, opening up new threats to security and privacy, and creating points of entry for sinister hackers to exploit.
  • Evildoers in disguise are on the prowl.  Sneaky phishers can gather information about you and make convincing fake email accounts to pose as your boss, lawyer, realtor, or someone else you trust.
  • Payment app poltergeist may ghost you. Smartphone cash app platforms can be high-ticket playgrounds for hackers and schemers who vanish into the night after they take your money.

So what can you do to protect yourself from ghoulish tricks? Here are some cybersecurity tips BBB recommends for home and work.

BBB Cyber Security Tips For Your Home

Share with care. What you post can last a lifetime, so think about who will see your posts and photos, how they will be perceived, and what information they reveal about you.

Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

Value your personal information. Think of your personal information like money: value and protect it. Be careful what sites you visit and be sure you are on a legitimate site before entering personal information. Be especially wary of communications that implore you to act immediately.

Make your passwords long and strong. Use long passwords with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols – eight characters for most accounts, twelve characters for email and financial accounts. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, especially email and financial. Keep a paper list of your passwords in a safe place, not on or near your computer. Consider using a password vault application.

Lockdown your login. For your online accounts, use the strongest authentication tools available. Your usernames and passwords are not enough; consider two-factor authentication for key accounts like email, banking, and social media, especially for access on mobile devices.

Don’t click on unfamiliar links. Whether at home or at work, don’t click on links from unfamiliar sources or unexpected correspondence. One false click can infect a whole computer.

Pay attention to your Internet-connected devices. Smart thermostats, voice control systems, cars, even refrigerators are just the beginning of the growing list of devices that watch our homes and track our location. Read the privacy policy and understand what data is collected, how it will be used, and how it is protected.

BBB’s Five-Step Approach to Cyber Security for Businesses

Identify your assets. Take inventory of key technologies you use and know what information you need to rebuild your infrastructure from scratch. Inventory the key data you use and store and keep track of likely threats.

Protect your assets. Assess what protective measures you need to have in place to be as prepared as possible for a cyber incident. Put protective policies in place for technologies, data and users, and ensure that your contracts with cloud and other technology service providers include the same protections.

Detect incidents. Put measures in place to alert you of current or imminent threats to system integrity, or loss or compromise of data. Train your users to identify and speedily report incidents.

Respond with a plan. Make and practice an Incident Response Plan to contain an attack or incident and maintain business operations in the short term.

Recover normal operations. Know what to do to return to normal business operations after an incident. Protect sensitive data and your business reputation over the long term.

To learn more about cyber security best practices at home or work, check Managing Your Child’s Online SafetyBack to School Internet SafetyTips to Stay Cyber Secure When Working Remote, & The 5-Step Approach to cybersecurity for businesses.

Businesses and consumers can find the next BBB presentation on cybersecurity in your hometown or schedule one for your business, by visiting BBB.org/Cybersecurity or call (540) 342-3455. Feel free to share BBB’s cybersecurity videos on social media.


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