PFAC conference 2019 at Disneyland Resort Hotel, Anaheim, California
This year the PFAC conference was excellent. Located at the beautiful Disneyland resort, I had the privilege of attending several excellent sessions. One which especially stood out to me was Cybersecurity in an Evolving Digital Age. This session, presented by Jennie Wang, Deputy Chief, Cyber & IP Crimes Section, US Attorney’s Office, touched on the development of cybercrime and what precautions we can take to save ourselves from vulnerability online.
Cybercrime poses a challenging threat to the vast conveniences that the use of the internet allows us. As criminals adapt to many companies and individual’s usage of the internet for an array of activities, cybercrimes are taking on a new level of technology and sophistication. Even the most careful person can now fall victim to criminal traps online.
Understanding how cyber-crimes often function, however, can help to prevent becoming a victim. Being informed about what is out there, what to look for, what to avoid, and what security measures to adopt can help build one’s knowledge of how to practice cyber-security.
Some highlights from the presentation
The presentation touched heavily on password protection as a main tactic for cyber-security. Two-step authentication is becoming a more popular form of password protection most people may be familiar with. It works by requiring a confirmation code sent to either a cell phone or email address before providing access to an account after entering one’s password.
The most common usage of two-step authentication users may recognize is will access to bank accounts. Customers provide both a cell phone number as well as email address for the account, and when logging in may be asked to enter a code sent to their phone before proceeding. The problem with this method of two-step authentication is that hackers have circumvented the issue of having to provide a code sent to someone’s phone via text. They can easily hack into someone’s cell phone, contact the carrier, and transfer a phone number to them instead. After that, bank or other account authentication codes get sent to criminal hackers and they gain easy control to your money and private information.
There are now more secure solutions to combat this problem presented by hackers. The best way to keep your information secure is to use alternative authentication applications instead of using your cell phone number as validation. Google authenticator is one of the most popular apps for this purpose, and can be accessed with this link for iPhone users: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-authenticator/id388497605?mt=8 or here for Android users: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/1066447?co=GENIE…hl=en. It will only take a few minutes to download a service like this onto your phone and can provide you with an invaluable measure of security.
Unfortunately, securing your bank account is not the only safety precaution necessary to protect personal information online. Security of social media profiles proves extremely important, although it may come as a surprise to many that social media hacking can be as detrimental as it is. The most popular social media accounts used today, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can provide hackers with access to a variety of sensitive information. Not only can an infiltrator to your account invade the privacy of you, your family, and your friends, but they can also use these social media sites to infiltrate your other accounts. Through social media hackers can then move to your bank or iCloud accounts. This puts both personal images and finances at risk.
Unfortunately, two-step validation processes are not enough to keep online accounts safe. It is also extremely important to frequently change passwords in order to protect your digital assets. The main reason for internet user’s reluctance in using a wide array of passwords is simply the ability to remember them. Using a password keeper can solve this frustrating issue. Consider using a password keeper like LastPass so you can remember all of you passwords as well as keep them in a secure spot (www.lastpass.com).
The many threats posed by account hacking may sound discouraging. Even considering these many useful applications and tools for account security, perhaps the most important precaution is to simply maintain a proactive mindset on the internet. Awareness and watchfulness for suspicious behavior can prevent detrimental attacks on personal information. Suspicious online incidents can always be reported to the FBI and DOJ. Websites including www.cybercrime.gov and www.ic3.gov are helpful platforms to file complaints and contact authorities. Moving forward, acting with conscientiousness and proactivity can hopefully create a more secure internet.