During National Cybersecurity Month (October), the IRS reminded businesses, parents, families and others to be mindful of the potential dangers in sharing devices at home, shopping online and using social media. Often, the less experienced, can put themselves and others at risk by leaving an unnecessary trail of personal information for fraudsters.
A few simple suggestions that can help protect children and other vulnerable groups from potential dangers to their personal data are:
- Recognize and avoid scams. Phishing emails, fake social media profiles, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as the IRS or legitimate organizations, especially government programs, present ongoing risks. Learn what a scam call sounds like, and do not click on links or download attachments from unsolicited suspicious emails from unknown senders and verify contact/content/context with trusted senders.
- Never overshare. Providing only what is necessary will minimize online exposure to scammers and criminals. Do not share too much personal information like birthdates, addresses, age, financial information such as bank account and Social Security numbers.
- Public Wi-Fi networks. Connection to Wi-Fi in a mall or coffee shop is convenient but it may not be safe. Cybercriminals can easily intercept personal information on public networks so always use a virtual private network when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
- Use security software and anti-virus protections. Make sure electronic devices have security software that is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files, such as tax records stored on computers. Ensure all family members have comprehensive protection, especially if devices are being shared. Use strong, unique passwords for each account. Consider a password manager, or enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication for business, personal and online accounts.