Warning: online risks are much higher

Know the precautions to take online and how to present yourself to stay safe.

Know the precautions to take online and how to present yourself to stay safe.

Our world is more connected than ever before with technology touching much of our work and personal lives. In recognition of this, October is designated as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia  has partnered with the STOP.THINK.CONNECT campaign to raise awareness about digital and online security.

As hackers become more sophisticated, it’s important to understand how to recognize potential problems and to protect personal information because online risks have never been higher. According to a STOP.THINK.CONNECT survey:

  • 96 percent of Americans feel a personal responsibility to be safer and more secure online.
  • 93 percent believe their online actions can protect not only friends and family but also help to make the Web safer for everyone around the world.
  • 61 percent believe that much of online safety and security falls under their personal control, and consistent with those feelings, 90 percent said they want to learn more about keeping safer on the Internet.
  • 48 percent feel their actions to stay safe and secure can have a positive impact on financial, economic, and national security of the country; indicating Americans are open to making the bridge between their own safety and the nation’s security.
  • Concern about identity theft rates slightly higher than fears of job and healthcare loss. 54 percent of Americans are extremely concerned about loss of personal or financial information. To place this is in context, 53 percent are concerned about losing their jobs, while 51 percent feared not being able to provide healthcare for their family.

BBB encourages online users to educate themselves about cyber security risks and offers these tips on protecting computers, tablets and mobile phones while online:

  • Protect personal information: Start with creating unique and creative passwords for each account and change passwords frequently. Consider using two-factor authentication for your accounts which requires entering a special code. Never give out your password. Delete unsolicited phishing emails asking for personal information.
  • Connect with caution: Beware of links in unsolicited emails or those found in ads on social media sites. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi – these networks are not secure. When entering financial or credit card information, be sure that the website is security enabled (https).
  • Share with care: Limit your online presence and the information you share. Check privacy settings on social media. Never post personal details anywhere online. Ask permission before tagging photos of friends.
  • Secure Smartphones. Be sure to password protect and lock your smartphones. Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not actively in use. Download apps only from trusted sources. And pay attention to cell phone bills – unauthorized charges and increased data usage may indicate the phone has been hacked.

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