October is Cyber Security Month in Wisconsin…and with identity theft on the rise nationwide, there’s no time like now to think about your family’s safety when using the internet.
Sandy Chalmers, from the Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection, joined us Friday morning to share some tips for safe internet usage.
Why should consumers use caution when accessing the internet?
• Identity theft is the fastest growing financial crime in the U.S., with more than 10 million victims each year and more than $5 billion in damages.
• Identity theft entered Wisconsin's top ten list of consumer complaints for the first time last year, debuting at #5.
• Ransomware and other malware attacks remain a threat. A recent ransomware scam used Skype's instant message feature to spread malware.
• With smartphones, tablets and laptops, we are constantly connecting to the internet through wireless connections including public WiFi terminals. Without proper safeguards, that increases the exposure of our information and opens up our connections for attacks.
How can people protect their privacy while online?
• Use long, complex passwords to protect your accounts.
• Never click a link or download a file in an email from a sender you don't recognize.
• For online shopping or other places where you enter personal details, only visit trusted websites and do not redirect to the site using a link from an email.
• Make sure you are using a secure connection when you check out from a shopping site and use a credit card to protect against unauthorized charges and incorrect or faulty products.
• Know that potential employers, college admissions officers and family members can all view your social media profiles. Adjust privacy settings on these sites to manage who can view your content. Remember that, by default, a new profile will be visible to nearly all site users unless you adjust the settings.
• As a general rule, do not share personal data online such as phone numbers, home addresses, full date of birth, social security number, bank or credit card numbers or travel plans.
How can smartphone and tablet users protect their privacy?
• Remember that smartphones and tablets are essentially portable computers, and do not differ much from a regular desktop or laptop computer. Treat your data with the same respect you would use with those machines.
• Keep the software on your gadget up to date and use strong passwords for your device. Have the unit time out periodically and require a password unlock.
• If you connect to the internet using a public Wi-Fi connection, limit the type of business you conduct and try to shield your screen from onlookers.