Carol Hopkins | August 26, 2015

As school year begins, experts provide cyber security tips

The start of school again brings new cyber security risks, say experts, and it’s important to commit basic cyber security tips to memory.

Wombat Security provides these tips about keeping your personal data safe.

1. PHISHING: In the first three months of 2015, the phishing alert system was activated more than 50 million times on computers using Kaspersky Lab security software, said Gretel Egan, content manager for Wombat Security.

Phishing — fraudulent email messages designed to trick users into downloading dangerous attachments, clicking malicious links or revealing sensitive financial, personal, or business data — is a threat to all email users and is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Best advice: think before you act on any unsolicited messages. Fraudsters like to create a sense of urgency using scare tactics, amazing offers, and other traps that will prompt you to click or download right away.

2. PERSONAL DATA: Be careful how much of your information you put out there and when and where you share it.

This is a particularly important tip for college-age students who are building their personal credit.

Stores, websites and social media posts often ask consumers to provide personal information in exchange for special offers –– be selective and protective in these situations. Parents, talk to your children about privacy and appropriate sharing.

Limiting the credit cards you use is a good first step –– designate a single card for online purchases, for example. Be very cautious of where you (and your kids) use debit cards since they pull funds directly from bank accounts.

3. SOCIAL MEDIA: Assume everything posted on social media is public and permanent. Deleted items aren’t necessarily gone, and you shouldn’t be fooled by platforms like Snapchat, where posts supposedly “disappear” after 10 seconds.

Any post on any social app can live for eternity and be shared with anyone — regardless of privacy settings and regardless of whether the post was deleted. Screen captures and copy/paste functions can give items a life beyond the limits you think you’ve set.

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