Digital Lockdown: Protect Yourself From Cybercrime

September 10, 2012  |  

Image: Creatas

Cybercrime is up. In fact, according to the annual Norton Cybercrime Report, cybercrime cost consumers more than $20.7 billion during the past year and 71 million Americans were victims in the last 12 months.

“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast-growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” says Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate in a press statement.

The latest victims were millions of Apple users, which could affect iPhone and iPad owners. Reports CNet, “An online hacker group associated with Anonymous claims to have posted 1 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) by breaching FBI security… In all, AntiSec claims to have obtained more than 12 million UDIDs, including user names, addresses, and notification tokens from a laptop used by a FBI agent.”

If you have an iPhone, WECT offers steps to take to check your device.
•    Plug your device into your computer.
•    Open iTunes.
•    Click on the device name on the left hand side of the screen. This will bring up information about your device on the right.
•    Click “Serial number.” This will change it to “Identifier: UDID.”
•    Enter the first five numbers of your UDID here. If it comes up red, read the rest of the numbers and see if they match yours. If they do, your device information was released and you should change your iTunes password to make sure your information is safe.

Cybercrime can attack almost any of your digital devices. You need to be especially vigilant on social media networks, says Toi Barnhardt, associate publisher of Women of Color in Technology and Business, but there are ways to help guard your accounts from hackers. Barnhardt advises:

•    Change your password.  Make your password “strong” using symbols and upper and lower case letters.

•    NEVER give apps permission to access your Facebook account. It’s not worth it…ever. Never sign-in or register to websites using Facebook or Twitter’s “connect” buttons.

•    Be cautious of the Facebook friend requests you approve. Some of those accounts have only one goal and that’s to spam you. Also never click on suspicious links. They are ALWAYS spam links. They can sometimes clone your account and post as you so your friends think the spam is coming from you.

•    And most importantly: Go into your Facebook account and elect to use the “https” secure account.

If you are a victim of cybercrime, you need to take immediate action says Barnhardt.

•    On your PC: Download a free anti-virus program called Avast. When you install Avast, it will automatically reboot your computer and do what’s called a “Boot-time Scan” to capture and eliminate all the viruses and corrupted files before they “turn on” and start further infecting your computer.

•    On you cell phone, install a free app called LookOut. It will routinely perform virus scans on your cell phone and protect it from malicious activity. If you lose your phone or if it’s stolen, LookOut will also turn on its tracking device and email you its location. Plus, it will automatically turn on its camera (even if the person who stole you phone powers your phone off) and snap pictures for you and emails those pictures to you so you can see its surroundings… hopefully getting a pic of the thief.

For  cybercrime prevention tips, check National Cyber Security Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

*Update: Turns out that Apple hacking was a hoax, but that doesn’t diminish the importance or the threat.

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