On March 23, 2021, acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced that according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, South Carolinians lost more than $30 million to cybercriminals in the past year. Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart urges the public to remain vigilant of cybercrimes, so they do not fall victim.
But what does it mean to remain vigilant and what can you do to protect yourself and the environment where you live? Let us start with a simple concept: ID Theft (Identity theft).
Identity Theft happens when another person assumes or pretends to be someone else and uses the portrayed person's identifying information for financial benefit and committing fraud.Identifying information includes
Generally, anyone is vulnerable, and no one is immune to ID theft. Experts recommend being prudent in protecting identifying information to avoid becoming a victim.
One of the ways to protect your personal information is knowing and identifying how identity theft occurs. Below are some of the methods that criminals utilize in identity theft.
Wi-Fi hacking – cybercriminals exploit unencrypted Wi-Fi connections or create fake Wi-Fi hotspots altogether. When they find a connected device with software vulnerabilities, they infect these device(s) with malware giving them access to data.
Take extra precaution when accessing Wi-Fi, especially public Wi-Fi. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi is unavoidable. Make sure your devices are protected. Refer to Cyber Tools listed below for the protection of devices.
Mail theft – mail containing bank account information, credit card statements, tax information, and Social Security numbers are of high value to criminals.
Make sure your mailboxes are secured. Check and collect your mail daily from the mailbox.
Phishing – cybercriminals may send emails with links or attachments that contain malware.
Be cautious when opening/reading emails. When you receive a suspicious-looking email, do NOT click links, or download materials.
Dumpster diving – documents or files containing identifying information that has been thrown in garbage bins can be collected by people with malicious intent.
It is highly advised to shred files, documents, letters, ATM cards, or credit cards before discarding them. Whether these are current, old, or expired cards and documents.
Phone call and text scams – calls and texts from unscrupulous individuals who may impersonate as bank employees, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officers, and others.
Do not give or confirm identifying information to suspicious callers or text senders. Banks and the IRS communicate via mail. Hang up or drop calls and do NOT respond to texts from persons claiming to represent banks and the IRS.
Do NOT respond to calls/texts saying you have won a prize when you did not join such a contest.
In addition to ID theft, we have Hacking, Malware, Ransomware, Software engineering and Software piracy, among others. Regardless of the type of attack there are some cyber tools you can use to protect you and your organization such as:
Software that is rapidly deployed to detect threats across the platform. It uses up-to-date threat intelligence which identifies bad actors that are known to cause ransomware, phishing attacks, and others.
Encryption is the process of scrambling plain text (e.g., email) into an unreadable format. Most encryption tools offer powerful, effective, and multiple encryption methods to protect files and folders.
These automated tools help organizations by scanning web applications to check for security weaknesses that will render them vulnerable to attacks.
This cyber tool helps computers and networks by detecting and removing viruses and other malicious software or "malware" that can be used to exploit data such as viruses, adware, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, and others.
"A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules." – Source: CISCO
Other available cyber tools in the market, include Network Defense Wireless Tools, Packet Sniffers, Managed Detection Services, Penetration Testing, and others.
Remember that the more you know about the threats you face, the better your chances of keeping your data secure and your finances and personal safety in check.