Ron Sharon

Cybersecurity and Technology Leader

Kim Komando: Dangerous cybersecurity mistakes you’re probably making | Business News

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The FBI’s latest Internet Cybercrime Report paints a bleak picture. Last year, Americans lost more than $6.9 billion to cybercrooks.

Don’t think you’re too smart to fall for their tricks. Even savvy people can get conned out of money before realizing what happened.

Maybe it’s too late, and you’ve noticed unexpected pop-ups or your phone getting hot when you’re not using it. Here’s how to know if a hacker or snoop is already in your smartphone.

Avoiding cybercriminals feels like a feat, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Knowledge is power. I’ll walk you through mistakes you might be making.

You think free means safe

Taking advantage of “free” Wi-Fi may cost you more than money. Public networks are unsecured and easy to hack. I’m not just talking about airports. Your local coffee shop, salon, or any place that doesn’t password-protect its network leaves you and your data vulnerable.

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Since this network is open for use, packet sniffers are readily available online that capture every keystroke you type. Think about this. Your passwords can be seen and collected by criminals.

Use a virtual private network when you need to access the internet and are away from a secure wireless network. A VPN uses an encrypted connection to safeguard against snoops.

You can also use your phone as a hotspot.

You skip updates

Are you notorious for rescheduling software updates but never actually installing them? If you often hit the “Remind me later” button, you ask for trouble. Don’t prevent your system from receiving the latest tools and security patches needed to fight off attackers and malware.

Updates are annoying when you’re in the middle of your workday, so schedule them late at night when you’re not using your computer.

You pick up when a scammer calls

Sometimes those scam numbers are mighty convincing. You recognize the area code and maybe even the first few numbers, or perhaps it’s your phone number. You pick up. That’s when a scammer has a chance to get their claws into you.

If you see Scam Likely, or whatever term your carrier and phone display, don’t answer. I often hear from my national radio show listeners who like to play games with phone scammers. They egg them on and pretend they’re interested.

This isn’t too bright. You never know if that person is recording your voice for nefarious purposes or even making a deepfake audio recording of you later.

You have a bunch of old unused accounts

The more online accounts you have, the more at risk you are when hackers come calling. With a new breach around every corner, your usernames and passwords aren’t safe.

Step one is combing through your email inbox and phone to locate the accounts you’re not using anymore. Then get rid of them. That’s not always the easiest thing to do.

Some accounts are impossible to delete, and some sites hide their delete links, and you have to dig pretty deep to find them.

This takes some time, but it’s worth it. When the inevitable data breach is announced from a site you once used, you’ll be glad you did it.

You click agree

When was the last time you read a site or service’s terms and conditions? You’re not alone. It probably means you’re allowing companies to collect your private data.

I’m not proposing you read every word because I know that’s not realistic. But there is a clever way to at least check a few things.

Next time you run into a privacy policy, terms and conditions page, or lengthy terms of service agreement, use a keyboard shortcut to search for specific words.

On a Windows PC, use Control + F.

On a Mac, use Command + F.

Now, type in terms like “third party,” “GPS,” “tracking,” and “data.” You’ll get a quick look at how your info is being used.