Hackers & Scammers

What are Hackers? We hear a lot about hackers in the media, Target was hacked, Sony was hacked, Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook) had his Facebook account hacked. So, what exactly is a hacker? According to Wikipedia, a hacker is “someone who seeks and exploits weaknesses in a computer system or computer network.”

Just how do hackers infiltrate our computers and accounts? Outside of the big corporate data breaches and losses that we read about, and which we have little control over, hackers often rely on user error. Is your computer security system up to date? Do you leave your computer on all the time so security updates aren’t installed? Do you use passwords like 12345? Do you share your passwords? Can your kids guess your password because it is the dog’s name?

At SafetyNet®, we recommend using computer security software on your computer. This will thwart many hackers before they can get into your computer.

Educate your family members about the importance of using good passwords that contain letters, numbers, and special characters. Use different passwords for all of your accounts, and change your passwords every few months. Remind your children not to share their passwords with anyone but their parents.

What are Scammers? The internet has changed the world in so many amazing ways for the billions of people who have the privilege of using it. Educational, economic, and social opportunities abound in this vast space. Unfortunately, a small percentage of people online are criminals. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported that online scams have been the number one consumer complaint for the last several years in a row.

Education is the key to defeating those in cyberspace who would attempt to do us harm. Go online with your kids and search for “online scams” so you can teach them how to spot a scam. You can even register with the FTC to receive emails about the latest scam alerts. As a general rule, never give people, organizations, government, or others who call or email you asking for sensitive information such as birthdates, social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers, or other private information over the web or telephone. If you feel the person may be legitimate, get the phone number of the organization, check that it is real by doing a quick search online, and then call on the phone to verify they are who they say and the information they are seeking is for legitimate purposes.

Finally, remind kids not to click on pop-ups, boxes that appear on their screens, or emails from people they don’t know in person. When it comes to internet scams, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!