October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and as the lead federal agency for investigating cyber attacks, the FBI has some tips to share with you to help secure your own devices, networks, and data.

Some of the more common cyber threats are Ransomware, Business Email Compromise (BEC), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) theft.

Ransomware has grown into a significant threat to U.S. businesses as well as individuals. Ransomware is used to encrypt important files and documents until a ransom is paid.

The BEC is a cyber threat that has spiked over the last several years and continues to threaten many businesses across the U.S. and abroad. BEC is a type of payment fraud that involves the compromise of legitimate business e-mail accounts for the purpose of conducting an unauthorized wire transfer. After a business e-mail account is compromised, actors use the compromised account or a spoofed account to send wire transfer instructions. Reports indicate that fraudulent transfers have been sent to 79 countries, with the majority going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong.

Intellectual property theft involves robbing people or companies of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions—known as “intellectual property”—which can include everything from trade secrets and proprietary products and parts to movies, music, and software.

Here are some precautions and safeguards you can implement to protect your data:

Keep Your Firewall Turned On

A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to gain access to crash it, delete information, or even steal passwords or other sensitive information. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.

Install of Update Your Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it. Viruses can infect computers without users’ knowledge. Most types of antivirus software can be set up to update automatically.

Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology

Spyware is just what it sounds like—software that is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store.

Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware; in some cases these products may be fake and may actually contain spyware or other malicious code. IT is like buying groceries—shop where you trust.

Keep Your Operating Systems Up to Date

Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.

Be Careful What You Download

Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.

Turn Off Your Computer

With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave their computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection—be it spyware or a botnet that employs your computer’s resources to reach out to other unwitting users.

If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a cyber crime you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov

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