Community Voices

Crime Watch: Cyber Security Awareness Month spotlights the perils of computer crime

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

October is National cyber Security Awareness Month. This is the perfect time for everyone to review what they can do to protect their electronic devices and data from cyber threats. So who better than our FBI partner, Jim Marshall, public affairs specialist for the Miami office, to let us know what can be done to better protect ourselves.

Consider this:

▪ Identity theft is the top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for the past 15 years.

▪ cyber criminals prefer an intrusion device called a “bot” in order to take control remotely of compromised computers and commit a wide range of frauds and scams.

▪ Equally as bad, Cryptolocker is a highly sophisticated ransomware that encrypts the computer files of its victims and then demands a ransom for the encryption key.

So what can you do?

▪ Set strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone.

▪ Keep your operating system, browser and other critical software optimized by installing updates.

▪ Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety.

▪ Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.

▪ Be cautious about what you receive or read online — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

▪ Turn off the option to automatically download attachments.

▪ Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or text message. Do not click on unknown links or answer strange questions sent to your mobile device, regardless of who the sender appears to be.

▪ Talk to your children about Internet safety. Keep your family’s computer in an open area and talk to your children about what they are doing online, including who they’re talking to and what websites they’re visiting.

The FBI takes its role in cyber security very seriously. This includes investigating and disrupting cyber-related national security threats and cyber-crimes as well as collecting, analyzing, and disseminating cyber threat intelligence.

Report Internet crime. This is the only way law enforcement agencies will be able to get a full picture of the level and type of crime being conducted. For more information or to report Internet crime, visit www.ic3.gov . Go to www.fbi.gov for more information about National cyber Security Awareness Month. Parents can also visit www.staysafeonline.org for information about child Internet safety.

In our office we have many brochures in Spanish and English for parents so give us a call at 305-470-1670. Our Youth Crime Watch program is working very hard in the schools to teach kids safe.

Elsewhere

▪ I want to thank Miami-Dade County Commissioners Barbara Jordan, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Rebeca Sosa, Daniella Levine Cava, Javier Souto, Chairman Jean Monestine, Dennis Moss, Audrey Edmonson, Sally Heyman, Juan Zapata and Esteban Bovo who purchased tables for their crime watchers and law enforcement partners at our 40th awards ceremony.

▪ This past week, we learned that Elyn Johnson, a founder of Citizens’ Crime Watch, passed away. Our condolence to her friends and family. She truly was an exceptional person.

▪ Next week, I will be providing you with some Halloween safety tips, a discussion you need to have with your children before the big day.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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