Internet crime is constantly taking place, and it often goes undetected. As technology continues to improve and play a greater role in our lives, criminals are also refining their skills online.
Attorney General Jim Hood today asked Mississippi consumers and businesses to continue to be cautious of Internet crime. In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is observed annually in October, Attorney General Hood offered advice for Mississippians about how they can protect themselves.
“Cyber crime in its many forms can jeopardize a victim’s reputation, threaten personal safety and lead to financial ruin,” Attorney General Hood said. “We encourage consumers to do as much as possible on the front end to prevent the possibility of becoming a victim of cyber crimes such as identity theft, financial fraud, e-mail spoofing, or intellectual property crime.”
Attorney General Hood urges businesses and consumers to look for ways to be more secure online by applying safe cybersecurity practices.
“Companies and agencies must take basic precautions to block cyber thieves from their computer systems and electronic data to prevent a potential data breach. It is very important to train employees and not just assume they know computer security basics,” Attorney General Hood said. “My office compiled a Cybersecurity Guide that addresses growing trends and responses in a single guide. The Guide was designed especially to help small businesses, but it may also be helpful to larger companies and government agencies as well.”
The unique Guide includes a list of suggested standards, a list of what not to do and an appendix of important FTC cases which provide further guidance. Additionally, the Guide provides an overview of cybersecurity threats facing small businesses, a summary of several practices that help manage risks posed by these threats and a response plan in the event of a cyber incident. (Consumers can download a copy of the guide at https://www.ago.state.ms.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Cybersecurity-Guide1.pdf)
As for Mississippi consumers, Attorney General Hood encourages them to follow these simple steps to ensure the security of their personal information online:
· Keep your private information private. Avoid sharing your full name, address, and other personal information online unless you are providing that information to a trusted recipient in a secure online transaction. Frequently check a website’s privacy options to ensure you have enabled the highest level of privacy as options may get updated or changed completely. Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information unless it is encrypted.
· When in doubt, throw it out. Links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertisements are often how criminals compromise your computer or mobile device. If it looks suspicious, it’s best to delete it and do not click on any portion of the link. If appropriate, mark the message as “junk email” so that future messages from the sender do not end up in your inbox.
· Set strong passwords. Setting passwords that are long, unique, and hard to guess is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online accounts. Changing passwords regularly and using different passwords for different accounts goes a long way to protecting your online information.
· Secure your accounts. Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many websites now offer additional ways for you to verify your identity before you conduct business on their sites, such as two-factor authentication.
· Secure your mobile device. In order to prevent theft and unauthorized access, use a passcode to lock your mobile device and always lock it when it’s not in use. Never leave your mobile device unattended in a public place.
· Timely update antivirus and other cybersecurity software on your home and work computers.
· Monitor your online bank and credit accounts regularly.
For more information, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 281-4418 or visit www.AGJimHood.com .