Fight Cybercrime During National Cyber Security Awareness Month: It's Time to Take Action, Safeguard Devices and Protect Personal Information
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an increasingly technology-oriented world, cybercrime has become all too common for both consumers and businesses. Internet crime takes many forms and includes everything from large-scale data breaches to consumer issues like identity theft and cyberstalking to widespread scams and ransomware. In the third week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and their industry, government and nonprofit partners are highlighting the different types of online crime and how people and businesses can better protect themselves.
"As cybercriminals sharpen their hacking skills, we must take stronger precautions to protect our information and all of our connected devices," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of NCSA. "There are simple things everyone can do to better safeguard their key accounts, devices and apps, like keeping software up to date, turning on strong authentication and exercising extreme caution when reading messages containing links or requests for information."
Tech support scams make up one of the most common forms of cybercrime, and many companies providing technology products and services find themselves targeted by cybercriminals. Microsoft's new survey and infographic on these crimes share the following eye-opening findings:
"Tech support scams are on the rise around the world and demand urgent attention from law enforcement, private industry and individual consumers," said Courtney Gregoire, senior attorney at Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit. "According to a recent survey from Microsoft, two out three people have experienced a tech support scam in the past year, with many falling victim and placing their computers and personal information at risk.1 Our aim is to make a safer digital experience for everyone, and we are excited to partner with the National Cybersecurity Alliance to help educate people on how to identify, avoid, and report these kind of scams."
Microsoft's blog post on the survey provides valuable information and tips for spotting and fighting scams.
In addition to the rise in tech support-related and other scams, identity theft is a key concern for many – in fact, a 2016 NCSA survey cosponsored by Microsoft revealed that preventing identity theft was the top online safety topic both teens and parents of teens would like to learn more about.2 The Identity Theft Resource Center's (ITRC's) 2016 Identity Theft: The Aftermath study3, which surveyed victims of identity theft in 2015, revealed the following:
"Identity thieves can use a variety of platforms to commit their crimes, including many online platforms. This crime creates not only short-term effects for victims during the time they are remediating their cases – it creates long-term effects as well," said ITRC President/CEO Eva Velasquez. "When we look at the sheer volume of identity theft it is easy to get lost in the number; we must not forget that behind each percentage and incident we count, there is a person whose life is being affected. This in turn affects families, communities, regions and our country as a whole."
In recent months, ransomware attacks – the "digital kidnapping" of valuable data in which malware accesses victims' files, locks and encrypts them, and then forces victims to pay ransom to get the files back – have grown more sophisticated and prevalent. The FBI has warned that these attacks are on the rise4, and according to Kaspersky Lab, the number of individuals attacked by crypto-ransomware increased 5.5 times from 2014/2015 (131,000) to 2015/2016 (718,000).5 These threats can be especially damaging to businesses, which may store critical organizational data, intellectual property and consumer information. "Having a backup that can restore the impacted system is a key defense that can help organizations restore normal operations quickly after being impacted by ransomware," said Kaiser.
NCSA's STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ campaign recommends that both consumer and business audiences take the following steps to prevent and recover from cybercrime such as scams, identity theft and ransomware attacks:
While many cybercrime discussions focus on identity theft and scams, cybercrime can also include online domestic violence, stalking and harassment. The National Center for Victims of Crime and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime have resources for victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, financial crimes and other offenses. Additionally, see NCSA's pages on cyberbullying and harassment and identity theft and fraud for more resources and information.
NCSAM Week 3 Resources for Recognizing and Fighting Cybercrime
Upcoming NCSAM Events
Throughout the month, you can follow the NCSAM conversation on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware (and tagging your own posts with #CyberAware, too!). Additionally, @STOPTHNKCONNECT is hosting weekly Twitter chats throughout October to discuss different topics and trends in cybersecurity. Tune in each Thursday through Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. EDT to join the conversation, and visit the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, website for the full chat schedule. NCSA has created sample social media posts, infographics, posters, memes and more that encourage organizations and individuals to show their support for NCSAM and that can be downloaded and shared. You can also get the latest resources as they are available by registering as a NCSAM Champion. Finally, check out the Stay Safe Online blog for NCSAM posts from NCSA and partners during the month of October.
About National Cyber Security Awareness Month
About the National Cyber Security Alliance
About STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™
1 Microsoft Global Survey 2016
Infographic - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161017/429210-INFO
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SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance