How can I protect my information online?
Online Security and Safety
Accessing the Internet through a broadband or high-speed connection at home can enhance the online experience. However, the speed at which information can be transferred to and from your computer and the fact that it stays connected to the Internet for long periods of time makes it a more likely target for hackers than dial-up Internet users. By taking some basic precautions and using a few simple tools, you can protect your computer and your information from theft, misuse and destruction.
Common Online Threats
Malware is short for "malicious software." Criminals can use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. OnGuardOnline.gov provides tips on how to secure your computer and protect yourself fromInternet fraud. They also provide a glossary of Internet-related terms that include common forms of malware such as:
Please note: Public reports are indicating a widespread infection a worm called the Conficker/Downadup worm. You may wish to view information from US-CERT about how to scan for and remove the Conficker/Downadup worm.
Resources for Protecting Your Privacy and Security
- OnGuardOnline.gov offers security tips on their Seven Practices for Computer Security web page.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers information on their website about privacy and security. You will find information about how to protect kids' privacy online, protect your computer from malware and Internet fraud, secure your wireless network and more. The FTC also offers businesses a source of information about computer security and safeguarding personal information.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a web page titled Cyber Security: Make it a Habit, which gives consumers tips on how to keep their information private.
- You may also wish to view electronic publications about computers and security from the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC).
- StopFraud.gov, the official website of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, maintains a list of resources and information dedicated to helping find and report suspected cases of financial fraud. You may wish to view information about how to report financial fraud or protect yourself from fraud.
Where to Report Internet Fraud and Internet-Related Crime
If you are a victim of Internet fraud, you may notify federal law enforcement through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at their website, IC3.gov. The IC3 evaluates every complaint, and then refers it to the appropriate local, state, or federal agency. Once the IC3 refers a complaint to the appropriate agency, it may be assigned to an investigator. However, they cannot guarantee that your complaint will be investigated.
There are several other sources to visit for information on how to report Internet-related issues:
- The Reporting Computer, Internet-Related, or Intellectual Property Crime web page from the Department of Justice (DOJ) provides access to a large number of agencies where you may report your information based on the type of occurrence.
- The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) website provides information on viruses and other issues related to cyber attacks.
- The Econsumer.gov website accepts complaints about e-commerce (business or trade that takes place on the Internet) across international borders.
- Concerns specifically about child pornography should be directed to the DOJ.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, designated to bring attention to the importance of protecting yourself, your family and your information online. You may wish to view the Presidential proclamation for 2009.
by usa.gov team
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