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As the popularity of a site increases, so does the risk to users as criminals are quick to exploit any new technology or trend. Sites like Facebook, MySpace and Linkedln are particularly attractive to cyber criminals who use a variety of social hacking techniques and malicious software to capitalize on the unsuspecting user.

The next time you sign in to stay in touch, please consider these security tips:

1.Information posted on the Internet never really goes away – Think twice before you post those crazy college photos! They are likely to remain on the Internet indefinitely – even if you “delete” them – in cached copies of pages, copies saved on other people’s sites, etc

2.Passwords, passwords, passwords – Use a strong password that contains a combination of numbers, special characters, and capital / lower case letters. Consider using a password that is different from ones you use on sites that contain particularly sensitive information, such as online banking sites.

3.Add-ons add risk-Plugin’s such as “smiley faces” are popular add-ons by teens and young adults. While they add a personal touch, they are a common means for cyber criminals to install malicious software on your computer. In short, limit add-ons to limit your risk.

4.Anti-Virus is critical – Pictures, files, and links on these sites are increasingly becoming infected with viruses, malware, spyware, key loggers, etc. Keeping your anti-virus up-to-date is a critical line of defense.

5.Understand the security and privacy policies – Don’t rely on default settings. Restrict access to the information you share to only those you personally grant access. Also, review a site’s privacy policy to understand who “owns” the data posted to these sites.

6.Exercise caution – Just as you have learned to be cautious while surfing the Web or opening attachments contained in email, you should be equally cautious when engaging with people on social networking sites. Verify the identity of “friends” before granting them access to your personal information.

7.What you share can be used against you – Seemingly harmless information such as your pet’s name, your high-school mascot, your birthday, etc., are oftentimes answers to challenge questions used to reset your password on a secure Web site. Be wary of surveys that often ask for this type of information.

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internet fraud

Not too long ago I wrote post about Phishing in the Caribbean, and how that there are Signs of Phishing in Dominica.

For those of you reading this post for the first time, and have no idea what phishing is – basically, phishing is a scheme used by internet fraudster in the attempt to tick bank and credit card customers to innocently reveal their security detail so that they can gain access to the individual accounts.

The Caribbean is rapidly becoming the new phishing destination, due to the fact that most of the law enforcement agencies around the Caribbean are new to these types of internet crimes.

So how does one protect against Internet fraud and phishing?

The first and last rule is to educate yourself as to the risks; ignorance is no defense as the Judge would say. Fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated and so you must keep abreast of the risks and different techniques being employed.

There are some simple rules you should always remember:

  • The bank will never ask you for your PIN, password, catch-phrase or anything like that.
  • Never disclose your password or PIN to anyone.
  • Always type in the address of your bank’s or credit card company’s website.
  • Use a secure password: not your date of birth, vehicle registration, telephone number or anything associated with you that someone might easily guess.
  • Use different passwords for different secure sites.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements immediately.
  • Always know where your passport, drivers licence and social security card is, and report them lost/stolen once you’re satisfied you cannot find them.
  • Properly destroy old utility bills, bank statements and any mail which is of a sensitive nature that may contain your name and address, or that could be used as identification to open an account or gain credit.
  • Keep your important documents in a secure place and keep records of your credit card number, as well as the number to report them lost/stolen. Remember you wouldn’t have the card!

This is not an in-depth list, but should serve to bring security and the ricks of fraud home to those who never gave it a second thought. There hundreds of different measures which can be taken to improve computer security and how to protect your private information, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Basically, be aware and educate yourself, get training; it costs money sure, think of it this way – a car sticker , which reads “If you think Education is expensive, try ignorance.”

If you’re interested to know more about online crimes (phishing), I encourage to look-up the term in Google, there you will find hundreds of websites with updated information on online crimes and identity theft. Please don’t be one of the many who say “I had no idea” or “If only I did know…”

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