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October 14, 2021

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: How to Avoid Online Scams

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which makes it a great time to think about your digital security. This year’s motto, “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart,” encourages both individuals and organizations to do their part to protect themselves and take proactive steps to enhance their cybersecurity. According to a 2019 study, 43% of cyber-attacks targeted small businesses, and no organization is completely immune.1 You probably know that lots of your personal information is stored on your computer, smartphone or tablet, but did you know that human error accounts for 95% of all cybersecurity breaches?2 Let’s talk about ways you can stay safer online.

Use strong passwords

The most common initial attack route, compromised credentials, was responsible for a whopping 20% of data breaches in 2021.3 Using a strong, unique password is a key step to protecting yourself online. Don’t use the same password on multiple websites. Why? Imagine this: a website you use for something fun, such as playing word games online with friends, experiences a data breach wherein fraudsters gain access to your email and password combination. The first thing they’ll do next? The fraudster will try that combination everywhere in attempts to hack you, potentially including your email, your financial institutions, your credit card account — the list goes on. Limit the damage from potential data breaches by using strong, unique passwords for each different log in.

Protect your computer

Make sure to protect your technology and devices with updated security measures, including keeping the firewall on, using antivirus software and keeping your software updated. For more details, check out the FBI’s Internet Safety: Protect Your Computer  resource.

Double up with MFA

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA is a security process that requires more than one method of authentication from independent sources to verify a person’s identity. In other words, it adds a second layer of protection from fraud by requiring an extra step, like a text message confirmation code, before you can log in.

Think twice before you click

Phishing, one of the most common forms of online fraud, targets your personal information by pretending to be an organization or individual you know, like a bank, retailer or medical provider. Whether it’s an email or a text message from a number you don’t recognize, hesitate before clicking. Never open attachments in emails or text messages from strangers. Links in emails might contain spyware or malware, which can give hackers access to your personal information. Learn more about protecting yourself from common online scams.

Report fraud

Do you think you’ve been the victim of an online crime? File a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) as soon as possible. Visit  ic3.gov for more information, including tips and updates about current crime trends. For more information on how you can safeguard your information, visit StopRansomware.gov.

1Small Business Trends. 43% of Cyber Attacks Still Target Small Business While Ransomware Stays On Rise. Accessed October 1, 2021. https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/05/2019-small-business-cyber-attack-statistics.html
2The Hacker News. Why Human Error is #1 Cyber Security Threat to Businesses in 2021. Access October 2, 2021. https://thehackernews.com/2021/02/why-human-error-is-1-cyber-security.html
3IMB. Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021. Accessed October 1, 2021. https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach


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