Top 5 Things You Should Be Doing to Keep Your Information Safe Online – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

If you’ve noticed an increase in spam texts or phisy emails—you’re not alone.

Cyber scams are on the rise and as part of October’s Cyber Security Awareness Month, NBC 5 Responds is talking with top cyber security experts who share their Top 5 Tips to help you combat cyber-related crimes.

“We saw a significant increase with both business email compromise schemes and individual email compromised schemes or fraud perpetrated through email totaling nearly half of that at $1.8 billion dollars in 2020,” said Matt DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Dallas.

They’ve seen an uptick of complaints to their Internet Crime Complaint Center, also known as IC3.

TIP 1: THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK.

“You should not open attachments in emails from people who you do not personally recognize or from or if the message somehow makes you suspicious at all,” said DeSarno.

That sentiment is echoed by cybersecurity expert,” Alain Espinosa.

I think the pause before you act is critically important in all of this right now. The scammers, they really operate based on fear and immediacy, sort of whether it’s a call or text or whatever it is, even a letter in the mail, for that matter. You know, they want you to act. They want you to act fast. Of course, they don’t want you to think,” said Espinosa.

TIP 2: THE IMPORTANCE OF M.F.A.–MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION.

“It’s just being able to prove that you’re you in more ways than one, just knowing your passwords. In other words, you need to know your password and you need to know a code from your phone that’s been texted to you,” said executive director at the National Cybersecurity Alliance, Lisa Plaggemier.

And when it comes to protecting your accounts—M.F.A is vital.

“The use of multifactor authentication is frankly critical at this point. I don’t see it as an option. I would recommend that it’s not an option for folks because more and more websites are being compromised. and it just keeps happening,” said Espinosa.

Plaggemier goes a step further when it comes to protecting banking accounts.

If you have financial institutions that don’t enable don’t offer multifactor authentication, you should change banks. It’s really that critical,” said Plaggemier.

TIP 3: REGULARLY BACKING UP YOUR DATA.

“Backup your data and certainly not to the same computer. Right? So just take your data and copying it and putting it maybe in another folder, something that’s not going to work,” said Espinosa.

Espinosa recommends you back your files up to the cloud or a server that’s in a different location than where your computer is.

“Security always seems like it’s too much until it’s not enough,” said DeSarno.

TIP 4: MAKE SURE THE SOFTWARE ON YOUR DEVICE IS ALWAYS UP-TO-DATE

“When you see those little pesky pop-ups telling you to update, don’t ignore those. Most people do ignore them and the problem is that most of those updates are security updates,” said Plaggemier.

TIP 5: EDUCATE YOURSELF

Know what kinds of scams are out there.

There are a ton of free resources online from the National Cybersecurity Alliance the ID Theft Resource Center.

Start an open dialogue and talk with your loved ones– especially kids and grandparents.

“Kids are more likely to fall for scams, but when the elderly are scammed, it’s tragic because it’s for much higher dollar amounts. They have more to lose. And loneliness plays a role here. It’s definitely a factor because one of the most frequent scams against elderly are romance scams,” said Plaggemier.

While many of the tips on the list may seem basic—all the cyber security experts we spoke with said we should all take time to step up our game in keeping our information safe from scammers.

We also hope you’ll join in the conversation online using #BeCyberSmart.

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