Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, reminds everyone that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and encourages all Rhode Islanders to take steps to protect themselves and their workplaces.
Approximately 800 complaints of cybercrime are reported each day to the FBI, resulting in total losses of more than $1.3 billion last year. Federal statistics also show:
• An estimated 7 of every 10 children are victims of cyber bullying
• Approximately 1 of every 16 adults suffered identity theft last year
• Senior citizens are twice as likely to be victims of cybercrime than all other age groups combined
"Cybercrime impacts everyone, from individuals and families to small business owners and large corporations," said Captain John Alfred, head of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit and the Joint Cyber Task Force, a unique partnership between the Rhode Island State Police and Rhode Island's business community. "We all need to do more to protect ourselves and our workplaces."
Here are a few simple steps everyone can take to help protect against cyberattacks:
• Protect all computers, cell phones and other electronic devices with anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-phishing software; make sure to update all operating systems and software to protect against known attacks.
• Create strong passwords for personal, work and social networking sites; make sure to use different passwords for different sites and change them frequently.
• Beware of email attachments and apps from sources you don't know because they could contain viruses or malware.
• Update security and privacy settings on all social networking sites and don't post any personal information, photos or other messages that you are not willing to have go public.
• Beware of social media scams and online shopping deals from sites that encourage you to provide personal and or financial information that could leave you at risk for identity theft.
It's also important for parents and caregivers to teach children to protect themselves and their privacy, especially given the prevalence of cyberbullying and cyber predators, Captain Alfred said. Remind them not to connect online with anyone they don't know personally and to notify a trusted adult if they or someone they know is the victim of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.
The Rhode Island State Police also encourages business owners to become part of the Rhode Island Joint Cyber Task Force, which provides information and tips to help business owners throughout the state protect themselves from cyber disruptions and cyberattacks. For more information about becoming a member of the JCTF, call 401-921-8155 or visit the Rhode Island State Police website.