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National Cyber Security Awareness Month Culminates in Educating Consumers and Law Enforcement on Cybercrime

Campaign focuses on drawing awareness to and educating citizens, communities and law enforcement on combating identity theft and online fraud

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Washington, DC, Oct. 28, 2014 – With more than 11 million Americans experiencing identity theft each year, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is devoting its fifth and final week to cybercrime and law enforcement.

As Americans become more dependent on technology, we are also becoming more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Criminals can surreptitiously infect our computers with malware that can steal passwords and other sensitive information, add computers to spam-producing botnets or even lock consumers out of their systems. Additionally, technology can be used in crimes such as domestic violence and stalking. This can greatly compromise our personal data, our identity and our personal safety. While crime involving technology can be particularly difficult to investigate and prosecute because it often crosses legal and international jurisdictions, law enforcement officials are becoming more sophisticated about and devoting more resources to responding to cybercrime.

This week, National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an education and awareness campaign co-sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will help raise awareness and engage law enforcement officers on how to assist their communities in combating cybercrime as well as educate the general public on ways to protect themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft, online fraud and other crimes.

“Almost all kinds of crimes now have a digital component. Whether it is Identity theft, scams, stalking or domestic violence, criminals have found ways to use our devices against us,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA executive director.  “By educating consumers and those entrusted to keep them safe – police officers and other public safety officials – we can create a safer and more secure digital culture better able to prevent crimes and support victims.”

“Identity theft and online fraud affect millions of Americans, wreaking havoc on consumers’ assets and personal information,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, which operates Fraud.org. “Learning to spot the warning signs of common scams can help consumers avoid falling victim to these pernicious frauds.”

While scams can come in myriad varieties, they share common traits that consumers can learn to recognize. Below is a list of the most common Internet scams reported to Fraud.org in 2013:

  • Fake check scams: With initial contact often made via email or online classified websites, an authentic-looking (but fake) check is mailed to a consumer with directions to deposit it in their personal accounts and wire a portion of the proceeds to a third party. The scam artists get cash in hand, but the victim is left owing their bank money.
  • Internet merchandise scams: These bogus websites appear to sell everything from fake pharmaceuticals to electronics to counterfeit brand-name clothing, but the merchandise you buy never arrives or is completely different than what you ordered.
  • Bogus prizes, sweepstakes and “free” gifts: Lottery winnings, sweepstakes, free vacations and cars are offered, but you have to pay upfront to cover things like “taxes” or “fees” before you can collect the (non-existent) prize.
  • Advance fee loans, credit arrangers: Loans or credit are offered in exchange for an upfront fee. If the consumer pays, the loan never materializes, and the consumer loses his/her “fee.”
  • Phishing/spoofing: A phishing email or text message, allegedly from a business or organization you know or trust, which often includes a link or attachment that, when opened, installs malware or directs you to a look-alike website where personal information is requested.

It is important to take quick action if you are the victim of a cybercrime to mitigate the impact.  It is highly recommended that victims report cybercrimes. Reporting helps authorities collect information on perpetrators and can aid prosecution. You can report cybercrime to the following:

  • Local law enforcement. Even if you have been the target of a multijurisdictional cybercrime, your local law enforcement agency (either police department or sheriff’s office) has an obligation to assist you, take a formal report and make referrals to other agencies when appropriate. Report your situation as soon as you find out about it. Some local agencies have detectives or departments that focus specifically on cybercrime.
  • IC3. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) will thoroughly review and evaluate your complaint and refer it to the appropriate federal, state, local or international law enforcement or regulatory agency that has jurisdiction over the matter. IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center (funded, in part, by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance). Complaints may be filed online at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
  • Federal Trade Commission. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, but does operate the Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide to detect patterns of wrong-doing, leading to investigations and prosecutions. File your complaint at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en. Victims of identity crime may receive additional help through the FTC hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4388). The FTC website at www.ftc.gov/IDTheft provides resources for victims, businesses and law enforcement.
  • Better Business Bureau. To file a complaint about an online scam, visit bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started
  • Fraud.org, a project of the National Consumers League. You can report online fraud to the NCL by filling out on online incident report form. These complaints are shared with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection offices that can investigate. For more information visit http://www.fraud.org/complaint.

Crimes using technology can impact consumers in many ways. Identity theft and scam victims can have immediate financial losses as well as damage to their credit reports. Domestic violence and stalking victims can have data losses that lead to fear and personal danger.  Victims of all kinds of cybercrimes can also have emotional needs that need to be addressed. Victims are encouraged to seek help from a variety of sources, including:

Victims should also keep any evidence related to their complaint. Evidence may include but is not limited to: canceled checks; certified or other mail receipts; chatroom or newsgroup text; credit card receipts, envelopes (if items were received via FedEx, UPS, or U.S. Mail); log files, if available, with date, time and time zone; messages from Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites; money order receipts; pamphlets or brochures; phone bills; printed or preferably electronic copies of emails (if printed, include full email header information); printed or preferably electronic copies of web pages; and wire receipts.

Vital crime prevention efforts are found at the local, state and national level. Falling each October, National Crime Prevention Month addresses important issues such as victimization, volunteerism, and creating safer, more caring communities. For more information visit http://www.ncpc.org/programs/crime-prevention-month. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) promotes homeland security and public safety by taking on cyber crime with their C3 program (http://www.ice.gov/cyber-crimes) and by combating the sexual exploitation of children through Project iGuardian, which helps kids, teens and parents to be smart about online safety including staying safe from online sexual predators. You can find more information at http://www.ice.gov/cyber-crimes/iguardian.

To protect against cybercrimes, NCSA offers these tips:

  • Keep a clean machine by making sure your security software, operating system and web browser are up to date.
  • When in doubt throw it out. Don’t click on any links or open attachments unless you trust the source.
  • Make your passwords long and strong and unique. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password. Use a different password for each account.
  • Set your browser security high enough to detect unauthorized downloads.
  • Use a pop-up blocker (the links in pop-up ads are notorious sources of malware).
  • Back up your data regularly (just in case your computer crashes).
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet. Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from malware.
  • Make sure all members of your family follow these safety tips (one infected computer on a home network can infect other computers).

NCSAM events taking place this week include:

Federal Communications Commission Technology Demonstration and Expo: As part of its commitment to promote cybersecurity awareness, the FCC will host a Technology Demonstration and Expo on October 28. Through hands-on, interactive exhibits and demonstrations featuring a wide-range of products and services, the Technology Demonstration and Expo will help consumers learn how to protect themselves through effective personal cybersecurity practices while using their personal devices to connect to the Internet. For more news and information about the FCC event, please visit http://www.fcc.gov. 

Identity Theft: The Aftermath - Victim Impact Survey Findings: On October 29, the Identity Theft Resource Center will celebrate the 11th year of NCSAM with the release its research survey, “Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2013.” Join FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny and an esteemed group of panelists as they discuss the key findings of this victim impact survey and the ways in which they can leverage this information to better serve victims and consumers. Use the hashtag #IDTheftImpact to join the conversation. The Identity Theft Resource Center will be sharing statistics and facts from the findings on Twitter. Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m. EDT. For more information and to register, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/identity-theft-the-aftermath-victim-impact-survey-findings-registration-13579112491?   

Upcoming HIPAA Audits - How to Avoid and Be Prepared (virtual): In this webinar held by MentorHealth on October 29, host Brian Tuttle will discuss some of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services changes in regards to the enforcement of HIPAA laws already on the books. The discussion will also cover some of the new changes affecting covered entities and business associates, the factors that might cause an unwanted visit or letter from the Office of Civil Rights and how to prepare for and deal with an audit. For more information and to register, visit http://www.mentorhealth.com/control/w_product/~product_id=800402LIVE/.  

Verizon Webinar - There Are Two Types of Companies: Those That Have Been Breached and Those That Don’t Know They Have Been Breached: Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report findings show that it takes only minutes for an attacker to breach a company, but it takes months or more for a company to detect a breach. Learn from Verizon foremost security experts Bryan Sartin, Director, investigative response, and Cindy Stanton, director, product development, about the threat landscape and what organizations can do to better prepare, recognize, and respond to data breaches. Part presentation and part panel discussion, this October 30 webinar will suggest actionable steps for you to take back to your organization to start improving your security posture and reducing your chance of being the next cyber attack victim.   

About National Cyber Security Awareness Month
Now in its 11th year, NCSAM is co-sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in cooperation with the NCSA and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Celebrated each year in October, NCSAM includes the participation of a multitude of industry leaders – reaching consumers, small and medium-size businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people. Mobilizing everyone – from small businesses, local non-profits and academia to multinational corporations and governments – NCSAM is harnessing the collective impact of its programs and resources to increase awareness about today’s ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape.

It’s Never Too Late to Get Involved!
NCSAM supporters can get the latest news and updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/staysafeonline and on Twitter at @StaySafeOnline. This week’s Twitter chat, one of a month-long series of Twitter chats, is Thursday, October 30 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time using the hashtag #chatSTC. NCSAM’s official Twitter hashtag is #NCSAM. A full calendar of Twitter chats is available at http://www.stopthinkconnect.org/twitterchats. NCSA also welcomes organizations to show their support for NCSAM by becoming an official NCSAM Champion and submitting their registration at http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/champions/. So far, 400 champions have signed up to spread the word.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit public private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet. Working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private sector sponsors and non-profit collaborators to promote cybersecurity awareness, NCSA board members include representatives from ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast Corporation, EMC Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, Leidos, McAfee, Microsoft, PayPal, Symantec, Trend Micro, Verizon and Visa. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, NCSA’s mission is to educate and empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely, protect themselves and the technology they use and protect the digital assets we all share. For more information on NCSA please visit: http://www.staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.

About STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™
STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is the national cybersecurity education and awareness campaign. The campaign was created by an unprecedented coalition of private companies, non-profits and government organizations with leadership provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).  The Department of Homeland Security leads the federal engagement in the campaign. Learn how to get involved at stopthinkconnect.org.




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