The latest FBI report on Internet cybercrime paints a grim picture. Last year, Americans lost over $6.9 billion to cyber scammers.
Don’t think you’re too smart to fall for their tricks. Even savvy people can get their money scammed before they realize what happened. Tap or click five easy and effective ways to secure your smartphone.
It might be too late and you noticed unexpected pop-ups or your phone gets hot when you’re not using it. Here’s how to tell if a hacker or snoop is already in your smartphone.
Avoiding cybercriminals seems like a feat, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Knowledge is power. I’m going to explain five mistakes you could make:
1. You think free means safe
Taking advantage of “free” Wi-Fi can cost you more than money. Public networks are insecure and easy to hack. I’m not just talking about airports. Your local coffee shop, living room, or any other place that doesn’t password protect its network leaves you and your data vulnerable.
Since this network is open for use, packet sniffers are readily available online and capture every keystroke you type. Think about it. Your passwords can be seen and collected by criminals.
Use a virtual private network when you need internet access and you’re away from a secure wireless network. A VPN uses an encrypted connection to protect against spies.
You can also use your phone as a hotspot. Tap or click here for iPhone instructions. For steps on an Android, tap or click here.
2. You ignore updates
Have you been known to reschedule software updates but never actually install them? If you hit the “remind me later” button a lot, you’re asking for trouble. Don’t prevent your system from getting the latest tools and security patches needed to fight attackers and malware.
Updates are boring when you’re in the middle of your workday, so schedule them late at night when you’re not using your computer. Tap or click here to schedule updates on your Windows PC.
3. You pick up when a scammer calls you
Sometimes these fraudulent figures are very convincing. You recognize the area code and maybe even the first few digits or maybe it’s your phone number. You take. This is when a scammer has a chance to get his hands on you.
If you see Scam Likely or whatever term is displayed by your carrier and phone, do not respond. I often hear from listeners on my national radio show who enjoy playing games with scammers over the phone. They encourage them and pretend they are interested.
It’s not too bright. You never know if that person is recording your voice for nefarious purposes or even making a deepfake audio recording of you later.
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4. You have a bunch of old, unused accounts
The more online accounts you have, the more risk you face when hackers call you. With a new breach around every corner, your usernames and passwords are not safe.
The first step is to go through your inbox and phone to locate accounts you no longer use. Then get rid of them. It’s not always the easiest thing to do.
Some accounts are impossible to delete, and some sites hide their deletion links, and you have to dig deep enough to find them. Tap or click to access a tool that makes it easy to find where to cancel online accounts.
It takes time, but it’s worth it. When the inevitable data breach is announced from a site you’ve used before, you’ll be glad you did.
5. You click accept
When was the last time you read the terms and conditions for a site or service? You’re not alone. This probably means that you allow companies to collect your private data.
I’m not suggesting you read every word because I know that’s not realistic. But there is a nifty way to check at least a few things.
• On a Windows PC, use Control + F.
• On a Mac, use Command + F.
Now enter terms such as “third party”, “GPS”, “tracking” and “data”. You will get a quick overview of how your information is used.
Bonus Tip:Wi-Fi on the Moon, Russian Cyberattacks and Google’s Gas-Saving Trick
Did you know Wi-Fi is coming to the moon? Yes really. In this episode of Kim Komando Explains, I’ll teach you how to find an airplane seat with the most legroom, save gas, and some other technical tips you’ll use over and over again. I also have an action plan you can use to protect yourself against Russian cyberattacks.
Check out my “Kim Komando Explains” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.
Discover all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.