There are so many types, so many new ways, so much confusion and so much at stake. Wouldn't it be nice if someone just made it easy to protect yourself. Unfortunately, that's not possible but it is possible to be more aware. It hard to be educated but let me try.
There are many different types of cyber crime. Hacking, Malware, Theft, Identity Theft, Stalking, Child Soliciation, just to name a few. But let's make it easy and talk about the ones that you are most likely to get hurt by.
This is an attempt to get something from you, normally money. The criminal might email you that they need you to cash a check for them, send them some money and keep the rest for you. You might have "won" something. You might be told you have a lost relative. In the end, they want you to get some money to them.
The best way to defeat this is by common sense. If it's too good to be true, it is. No one gives money for nothing so don't fall for it. You probably don't have a long lost relative so don't believe it. Never give out your information to anyone on the phone or online. If they are a legitimate company they won't even ask so if someone does don't fall for it. Treat everyone you don't know as a criminal.
This is tough because there really isn't a lot you can do. Don't click on links in email. Go to websites you know and when doing research on something and you have to go to a new website, go to google.com first and then click on the link. Why? Hackers most often get into your computer after you've downloaded software from a website. Above all, make sure you get the best anti-virus software you can. Go to a website like http://www.av-comparatives.org/ and see what they recommend. Never buy anti-virus software subscriptions for more than one year. It might be a little more expensive but what you have one year might not be the best next year.
Most commonly, this is something getting your personal information about you in order to get credit or purchases in your name. Solution? Protect your information. Don't put your social security number, date of birth, address and other information online. Check your credit history once a year. By federal law you are allowed to check it for free once a year, so do it. The official website is https://www.annualcreditreport.com. Put blocks on your credit to prevent someone using it without extra notification. Try something like LifeLock if you feel the need. This can not only effect you now but for many years to come.
In "real life", stalkers can be dangerous people. They follow, harass, find out things about you and your family and then try to insert themselves into your life. Usually for affection. Prevention? Don't put personal things on the internet. Be careful what you share on social media and who you "friend". Understand the privacy settings and use them. Once in a while just google your name, address, phone number and email address and see what comes up. If you see something you don't like, ask it to be removed.
This criminal is of the most wicked. They want contact with your child so they can eventually have physical contact with them for abuse or get nude photos or videos of them. What can you do? Watch your kids while they are online. Go through their internet history. Make sure your anti-virus is up to date (many products have parental settings). Question your kids. Educate your kids about predators. Avoid chat rooms and believe it or not WATCH YOUR KIDS PLAY XBOX (or whatever console they have). Many predators are playing with them and chatting at the same time knowing kids aren't very good at playing and concentrating on keeping their information private.
There are many other kinds of crimes that take place online. Other tips are useful here also like, have a strong password for online accounts. When in doubt of something call the police or another authority to help you. If you gut says its bad, it probably is.
Stay safe America.
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