Cyber crime is one of the fastest growing areas of crime. Our daily lives, economic growth, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient cyberspace. We rely on this vast array of networks to communicate and travel, power our homes and run our economy. Yet cyber crimes have increased over the last decade, exposing sensitive personal and business information, disrupting critical operations, and imposing high costs on the economy. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity that modern technologies offer in order to commit a diverse range of criminal activities. These include attacks against computer data and systems, identity theft, as well as the deployment of viruses, and various email scams such as phishing. Additionally, the threat of terrorism forces authorities to address security vulnerabilities related to information technology infrastructure such as power plants, electrical grids, information systems and the computer systems of government and major companies. Cyber crime even encompasses the realms of cyber bullies and cyber predators.
Although cyber crime is a serious concern, learning about the risks is the first step to protecting yourself. Explore the information below to learn more about what you can do to stay safe online.
Before Cyber Attack
While cyber crime encompasses a number of different areas, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family before an incident occurs.
Use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on all your electronic devices. Keep your internet browsers up to date. Only connect to the Internet over secure, password protected networks. Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from unknown individuals.
If you are bullied online or on your phone, ignore it. Bullies look for a response, and ignoring it will help it to stop. Block or delete any cyber bullies from your social media profiles. Stand up for others being bullied. Bullies will usually stop if another person steps in to stop it. If you are a parent, talk to your kids about cyber bullying and its effects. Teach your children good online etiquette and be a good example to them.
Never share your personal information with someone you don’t know. Do not post personal information, such as your phone number or email address on social media sites. Do not meet with people in person with whom your only contact has been online. Avoid any sort of sexual talk online. Use privacy settings to restrict who can see your online profile.
During Cyber Attack
The following are immediate actions to take if you encounter instances of cyber crime:
Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date. Run a scan to make sure your system is not infected or acting suspiciously. If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.
Report the bully to an adult or other authority. While fear may make it difficult to report the problem, talking to someone about it will help it stop. Block or delete the bully from any social media or other types of contact. Do your best to ignore instances of bullying.
Immediately cease contact with the individual. Report the incident to local law enforcement.
Immediately change all passwords; financial passwords first. If you used the same password for multiple resources, make sure to change it for each account, and do not use that password in the future. If you believe the compromise was caused by malicious code, disconnect your computer from the Internet.
After Cyber Attack
There are steps you can take after an incident of cyber crime to help prevent becoming a victim a second time.
File a report with the local police so there is an official record of the incident. Report online crime or fraud to your local United States Secret Service (USSS) Electronic Crimes Task Force or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. If your PII was compromised, consider other information that may be at risk. Depending what information was stolen, you may need to contact other agencies, such as the Social Security Administration. For further information on preventing and identifying threats, visit US-CERT’s Alerts and Tips page.
Make sure you report the bullying to authorities. Do your best to avoid the bullies in the future. Talk about the issue with your parents or other adults. They can assist you in stopping the problem and help you cope.
Make sure to file a report with your local police department. If the victim was a child, also report the incident to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Take steps in the future to protect your personal information (see before tab).
More Cyber Attack Information
References, Resources and More Information:
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