National Night Out is a great time to focus on online safety
National Night Out is Tuesday, Aug. 2, and the City of Minneapolis is encouraging residents to use that evening to discuss cyber safety with neighbors.
Criminals often use the Internet to gain private information from victims, and the City’s 2014 Minneapolis Community Technology Survey shows that only 42 percent of residents overall are “very comfortable” with protecting their computers, preventing viruses, backing up files and avoiding scams. As technology use increases at home, at school and at work, it’s important for all residents to follow safety precautions online and to understand and detect threats.
Below are some basic ways you can protect yourself and your computer:
Protect your computer
- Home computers should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed. These programs should be set to update automatically and periodically scan for viruses.
- Keep all operating systems, web browsers, software programs and applications updated. Home computer operating systems can be set to update automatically.
- Never install software from an untrusted source, and be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails regardless of who sent them. Files that look like innocuous Word documents, pictures or sound files can contain viruses or other malware that weaken your computer's security. They may even appear to come from friends or coworkers.
- Back up your valuable files and photos regularly.
Guard your personal information
- Use long and strong passwords. The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Don’t share your account passwords and don’t use the same passwords for different online accounts, especially banking, e-commerce and email accounts.
- Use a password or personal identification number (PIN) on your mobile device.
- It’s OK to write down your passwords, but put your reminder in a safe place away from your computer.
Beware of scams
- Email messages, online ads, popups and search results have all been used to trick people into sending money and giving personal information. This is called “phishing” and criminals use it to commit identity theft. Don't reply to text, email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information, and don't follow any links in the messages. Don’t respond to unsolicited phone calls requesting personal information or remote access to your computer.
- Phishing scams often lure their victims with great deals and attractive offers. Sometimes they say you’ve won a drawing even when you never took part in one. Be skeptical of these “bargains.” Offers that seem too good to be true are often scams.
Connect online with care
- Look for “https://” in web addresses before paying for things online. The “s” stands for “secure,” which means the website takes extra measures to keep entered information safe.
- Secure home wireless networks with passwords and WPA2 encryption.
- Use your web browser’s privacy and security settings, such as pop-up blockers.
- Use the privacy settings on social networks to limit who can see your personal information. Don’t post information about being out of town, which could indicate your house is vacant.
- See security tips for using public Wi-Fi networks and more at www.OnguardOnline.gov.
Help your neighbors
- The City would like residents to use National Night Out to talk about cyber safety and help spread the word about how to be safe online. Click here for tips on staying safe online. You can also download a flyer to print and share with your friends and neighbors at National Night Out.
- Report cybercrime: Complaints are an essential resource for local, state and federal law enforcement officials. Authorities review consumer complaints to spot trends and build cases against hackers, identity thieves, scam artists and other fraudsters.
File cybercrime reports with the Minneapolis Police Department so that cases in Minneapolis can be addressed and documented. Reports can also be submitted to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.
Published Jul 27, 2016