Protect your digital footprint with these cybersecurity tips

Over the past year, thousands have fallen victim to hackers and scammers. These cyber-specialists have navigated their way into social media, apps and advertisements to target consumers for fraudulent activities. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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One of the biggest threats we face today involves cybersecurity. Statistics show that a cyberattack happens every 39 seconds.

There are many ways that scammers attack their victims like the typical phone call, text message, email or social media message.

With cybersecurity being prevalent with the advancement of new technology, it’s good to be mindful and careful with anything and everything. 

Oftentimes, scammers target elderly people because they are trusting and can be taken advantage due to their lack of technological knowledge. But it’s not only them. College students can fall victim to scammers too. With everything students post online, information gets out to scammers.

Jay Sneddon, assistant professor of the practice in information technology, said students don’t realize how global the internet is, so they overshare online. An example of oversharing would be posting pictures of themselves and saying where they are, which lets everyone know their location.

Sneddon said: “You have cyber stalkers, you have regular stalkers, you’ve got people who have no business really knowing your address, your phone number, and yet, those things are out there, and they take advantage of you for scams, for other kinds of problems like that.”

Matthew Kearl, assistant professor of the practice of software engineering, said there used to be sites where scammers could spoof people. They could use a number like 911 to trick people into thinking it was real, when it was actually a scammer trying to get information.

People may often think, ‘That can’t happen to me,’ but it can. It can happen to anyone. People who aren’t careful can fall victim to cyber scams. This can spread across all demographics.

Phishing is another cyber scam. This is portraying a site to be legitimate, but instead, it takes the user to a harmful site. Phishing includes fraudulent emails, text messages and phone calls.

Spoofing is where a scammer calls from a known number, like a dentist’s office, but it redirects the victim to the scammer.

In watering hole attacks, scammers portray themselves as legitimate and wait on actual websites to target people. These scammers use persuasion and intimidation to get what they want. They also use the tactic of being time-sensitive where they request the website user to respond quickly or else they will miss out on a deal. This encourages users to not think about the deal, just to buy it.

Another scam tactic used is acting as an authority, like the IRS, to get money from the individual. Scammers also use smishing, where they send out a text message to an individual trying to get personal information. 

Sneddon said it’s important to protect your bank account since scammers are after your money. It’s important to check your account monthly to make sure your credit card charges are in order.

Ways you can prevent these scammers from attacking you is to refrain from oversharing on the internet. If the deal seems too good to be true, then it most likely is. Sneddon said students have to be careful with their gaming sites. They should go to legitimate and trusted sites. He said to make sure they are encrypted, so scammers with peering eyes can’t harvest information. 

Ensuring cybersecurity is important and there are ways of doing this. Using strong passwords can ensure no one can hack into your account. Install antivirus software on your computer to protect your data.

Pryce Seely, a senior criminal justice major from Santa Clara and the president for the Cybersecurity Club, said, “If your web page blocks the site and says, ‘Past this, it’s been deemed a malicious site,’ just trust it.” 

Seely said to use your better judgment on these things. If something feels off, block the person or do what is necessary. If you don’t recognize a person or a name, then do not add them or accept their message.

There is a website called virustotal.com where you can copy a URL and put it into the website to check and see if the URL is a virus or not. 

Seely said, “Stop and think about things first before you react and stay calm.”