[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

Cybersecurity Tips

Some tips I have learned over the years and follow; these are just a few. There are lots of SCAMS today and more coming.

1. Do not answer the telephone if you don’t know who is calling. Let them leave voice mail and if it is important, you can call them back. Add names to your smart phone and when it rings, their names will be displayed.

2. Do not answer or respond to email or text messages if you don’t know who they are from. If it seems important, find other sources of information before responding.

3. Do not click on a link to a Website you don’t know or are not sure about. See if additional information can be found.

4. If an email, link, or text message looks suspicious, don’t respond.

5. If an email or text message is from someone you know, but the message seems suspicious, it may well be. See if you can find additional information before responding.

6. If email or text message content seems too good to be true, it probably is.

7. Keep your software (operating system and browser) up-to-date.

8. If there are any misspellings in the heading or content of a message, it is likely fake.

9. If there is any doubt about the validity of the message, there is no doubt.

Examples:

    • You see an unexpected email from your bank about your credit card or such and it asks you to click on the provided link to reset a password, or to obtain additional information. Don’t! Call the bank first to obtain another source of information. Use the telephone number on your credit card, visit the bank, or find a telephone number on a bank statement. If your password needs to be reset, use the link or app that you always use to be safe rather than one provided in an email.
    • You see an email or text message about someone you know asking for money because they are in a foreign country, in trouble, or whatever. Don’t respond immediately. Get more information from their friends or family, or even from someone else you know to help think it through. This is likely a SCAM.
    • You see an email or text message asking you to send money or bitcoins because they have compromising information on you such as videos of potentially embarrassing activity, visiting porn sites, or whatever. This is very likely a SCAM. Don’t respond.

Note: The federal government uses postal mail correspondence regarding your social security, Medicare, and so on, not email or text message.

Passwords:

    • Change every few months.
    • Make them difficult to guess. Therefore, not your kids or pet’s names. Maybe something like “AX67!&vyP” or something else as goofy.
    • Make passwords at least six characters. Some Websites may require more.

There are a lot of scammers trying to separate you from your money and they are good at it and getting better. First, take a deep breath. Then collect what data you can, ask questions of friends and family or security people as necessary before deciding what to do. Be SKEPTICAL. BE SAFE.

Google is a good source of information and is easy to Google for key words such as “cybersecurity,” “cybersecurity for seniors,” “cybersecurity for kids,” and so on.

– Dave Gould

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