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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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National Cyber Security Awareness Month


Cyber security affects almost every aspect of daily life, and the month of October is designated as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. NCSAM is a collaborative effort between U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the National Cyber Security Alliance and industry, designed to ensure that consumers have the information they need to stay safer and more secure online. It is a time for Internet users to reflect on the safety measures they already have in place and find new ways to improve them.

The underlying message this year is STOP.THINK.CONNECT.™ This campaign is based on simple, actionable advice that anyone can follow:

  • STOP — make sure security measures are in place;
  • THINK — about the consequences of your actions and behaviors online; and
  • CONNECT — enjoy the Internet. Weekly themes address a variety of cyber safety concerns and offer easy-to-follow tips and a variety of resources.

Additional cyber safety information, easy-to-follow tips and resources can be found at stopthinkconnect.org.


Recognizing and Fighting Cybercrime

Consumers must remain diligent and careful to avoid falling victim to one of the many forms of cybercrime, including: identity theft, financial fraud, stalking, online bullying or hacking. In 2014, over 17 million people were victims of identity theft, with an average loss per theft of $3,931.


Internet users should be aware of the most frequent cyber threats and know how to combat them.

  1. Identity Theft — the illegal use of someone else's personal information to obtain money or credit. Be on the lookout for bank withdrawals or credit charges you did not authorize or for bills for products or services you did not buy.
  2. Phishing or Imposter Scams — online communications or emails designed to lure individuals to provide sensitive information. Be wary of any unsolicited messages that urge you to act immediately, wire money, offer something that sounds too good to be true or ask for personal information.
  3. Malware and Viruses — malicious software designed to gain access or damage your computer system. Update your security software, web browser and operating system often.
  4. Ransomware — a type of malware that prevents or limits users form accessing their system, unless a ransom is paid to restore access. Protect against data loss by backing up your files and keeping them safe on a physical storage device.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends these simple tips for battling cybercrime:

  1. Keep a clean machine. Regularly update the security software and operating system on your computer and mobile devices.
  2. When in doubt, throw it out. Stop and think before opening attachments or clicking links in emails. Do not open an email if it looks suspicious.
  3. Use stronger authentication. You can opt to enable stronger authentication when available. A stronger authentication helps verify a user has authorized access to an online account.

Kids and the Internet


A 2016 study by the National Cyber Security Alliance on teens' online behaviors found that 28 percent of the teens participating reported that their household had no rules about their use of Internet-connected devices. Sixty percent of online teens ages 13 to 17 reported that they had created online accounts that their parents knew nothing about.

Below are some tips to help ensure your kids are safely surfing the web:

  • Be positively engaged: Pay attention to and know what sites your kids are visiting online.
  • Know the protection features of the websites and software your children use: All major Internet service providers have tools to help you manage your child's online experience, e.g. selecting approved websites, monitoring the amount of time spent online, or limiting who can contact them.
  • Review privacy settings: Decide which privacy settings on social networking sites, cell phones, and other social tools are appropriate for your child's age and experience.
  • Explain the implications: Help your child understand that anything they share on the Internet can be easily copied and pasted elsewhere, and is almost impossible to take back.
  • Stranger danger: Help your child understand that not everyone is truthful about their identity online, and stress the importance of not sharing personal information.
  • Be aware of all the ways your child can connect to the Internet: Phones, tablets, gaming system, and even TVs have become connected to the Internet, so it's important to act responsibly.

Have You Been a Victim?

In the wake of the recent Equifax data breach, it is important for consumers to know what to do if they suspect they have been a victim of cybercrime.

  1. File a report with the local authorities.
  2. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  3. Keep and record all evidence of the incident and its suspected source.
  4. Monitor your credit reports and bank accounts for unauthorized transactions.
  5. Consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your files.

Reporting cybercrime can help keep the Internet safer for everyone.


Coming in October

Join us to learn the latest in consumer fraud and scams and ways to keep your family safe

Consumer Protection Fair, Sun City Center, October 13, 2017

Active Living Expo, Tallahassee, October 19-20, 2017

McIntosh 1890 Festival, McIntosh, October 21, 2017

Call (850) 921-1560 or (850) 410-3679 for more information.

Due to Hurricane Irma, The Consumer Protection Fair scheduled for September 19, 2017, at One Senior Place, Altamonte Springs, was cancelled. It will be rescheduled for a later date.

 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state's clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection, and information. Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department's consumer protection and information hotline by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) or visit us online at FloridaConsumerHelp.com.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner

 

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