FBI reminds public October is National Cyber Security Awareness month

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

This is the perfect time of year for individuals, businesses, and other organizations to reflect on the universe of cyber threats and to do their part to protect their networks, their devices, and their data from those threats, according to Darrell Foxworth, an FBI Special Agent.

Consider the following released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Within the past year, personally identifiable information has been stolen in a number of significant cyber data breaches, impacting industries like health care, government, finance, corporate, and retail.

The use of malware by online criminals continues unabated, and of the available intrusion devices, the “bot” is particularly pervasive, allowing attackers to take control remotely of compromised computers. Once in place, these “botnets” can be used in distributed denial-of-service attacks, proxy and spam services, additional malware distribution, and other organized criminal activity.

Cyber criminals perpetrate a wide variety of crimes online, including theft of intellectual property, Internet fraud, identity fraud, and any number of financial fraud schemes.

Sexual predators use the Internet and social media to target the youngest and most vulnerable victims.

And many criminals use the so-called “dark web” or “dark market” websites that offer a range of illegal goods and services for sale on a network designed to conceal the true IP addresses of the computers on it.

The FBI — working in conjunction with its many partners at the local, state, federal, and international levels, as well as with industry — takes its own role in cyber security very seriously. That role involves operational efforts—including investigating and disrupting cyber-related national security threats and cyber crimes and collecting, analyzing, and disseminating cyber threat intelligence. It also involves outreach efforts to industry.

Here are just a few examples of how we’re doing all of that:

The FBI-led National Cyber Joint Investigative Task Force serves as the national focal point for coordinating cyber threat investigations. The work of the NCJITF includes a national public/private initiative to mitigate the use of botnets and malware by criminals, which has emerged as a global cyber security threat.

Cyber task forces in all FBI field offices coordinate domestic cyber threat investigations in local communities through information sharing, incident response, and joint enforcement and intelligence actions.

InfraGard — an information-sharing and analysis effort with private sector partners who own, operate, and hold key positions within some 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure — equips its members to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, develop incident response plans, and enact security best practices.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) accepts online submissions for Internet-related crime complaints, often involving fraudulent claims to consumers. These complaints can not only lead to culprits getting caught, but also help identify regional, national, or international trends to educate the public about constantly evolving cyber threats and scams.

The FBI’s Safe Online Surfing website, an online program that promotes cyber citizenship by educating young students in the essentials of online security in an effort to help protect them from child predators, cyber bullies, malware, a multitude of schemes, and other dangers on the Internet.

The FBI will continue to work jointly with our national security and law enforcement partners to address threats to the nation’s cyber security from nation-states, terrorist organizations, transnational criminal enterprises, and child predators. But government can’t do it alone — assistance and vigilance from the public is vital.

Stay tuned to this website during the month of October — we’ll be providing you with tips that will help keep your families and your businesses safe from cyber criminals.  Here is today’s tip concerning smartphones and mobile applications.

1. Use strong passwords. Change any default passwords on your mobile device to ones that would be difficult for someone to guess. Use different passwords for different programs and devices. Do not choose options that allow your device to remember your passwords.

2. Keep software up to date. Install updates for apps and your device’s operating system as soon as they are available. Keeping the software on your mobile device up to date will prevent attackers from being able to take advantage of known vulnerabilities.

3. Disable remote connectivity. Some mobile devices are equipped with wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, that can connect to other devices. Disable these features when they are not in use.

4. Be careful what you post and when. Wait to post pictures from trips and events so that people do not know where to find you. Posting where you are also reminds others that your house is empty.

5. Guard your mobile device. In order to prevent theft and unauthorized access, never leave your mobile device unattended in a public place and lock your device when it is not in use.

6. Know your apps. Be sure to review and understand the details of an app before downloading and installing it. Be aware that apps may request access to your location and personal information. Delete any apps that you do not use regularly to increase your security.

7. Know the available resources. Use the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker at www.fcc.gov.

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