People increasingly connect to the Internet outside of their homes and offices, enjoying technological innovations and the convenience and connectedness it brings. With smartphones and other portable devices giving us the ability to conduct every day activities such as mobile banking, online shopping, teleworking, and social networking, cyber criminals are constantly looking to take advantage of unsecure wireless networks, third party applications, and texting to acquire personal information.
According to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, many of the safety practices that are used to guard home and work computers apply to your portable devices as well. They include:
• Restricting access to your wireless network, by only allowing authorized users access to your network.
• Changing any preconfigured default passwords to ones that would be difficult for an outsider to guess.
• Keeping your anti-virus software updated.
• Using caution when downloading or clicking on any unknown links.
In addition to the things you can do on your own, the Department of Homeland Security works with other federal agencies and branches to help provide the public with information on how to better educate themselves to the threat of cyber criminals:
• The White House: The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative consists of a number of mutually reinforcing initiatives designed to protect the United States from various cyber criminal threats. Additionally, the White House developed a digital strategy to guide the Federal Government on protecting information while using mobile devices.
• General Services Administration: The GSA provides information to help individuals and businesses comply with mandates and guidelines for cyber security products, services, and solutions.
• Department of Defense: With the release of a mobile device strategy and a commercial mobile device implementation plan, the DoD is committed to keeping Americans safe online, no matter of their location.
• Federal Law Enforcement: The U. S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate high-tech crimes, including cyber- based terrorism and espionage.
• Federal Communications Commission: The FCC provides tips and resources for small businesses on how to better secure their infrastructure from cyber criminals.
Protecting yourself through simple steps can prevent you from becoming the victim of a cyber criminal seeking to gain access to your personal information, steal your identity, or read personal emails and work documents.