October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Carson City, NV – As part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford encourages Nevada’s youth to establish good habits for protecting their personal information. Advocates for online safety estimate that 75 percent of all Americans between 12 and 17 are willing to share personal information online. AG Ford encourages youth to pause before freely volunteering any personal information, and discuss questions with parents and friends.
Youth may not realize how much of their personal information is publicly available due to prominent use of social media. Deputies in the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection have been visiting local high schools to discuss the value of personal information with students, and some of the risks they can encounter online.
“Your personal information is another form of valuable property and currency,” said AG Ford. “You wouldn’t leave your wallet or smartphone lying around in the open for someone to take it. Your personal information is just as important, even if you can’t touch it.”
Personal information is any information that can be tied to a specific individual, such as a physical address, phone number, date of birth, driver’s license number and Social Security number. Additional examples include your email username and password, employment history, real-time location, recent photographs, and family information. Youth might provide some of this information in the registration process, and post other items of information while using an online app. Providing this information poses both internal and external dangers.
The Office of the Nevada Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following general tips for parents to discuss with their children. These tips should be used for all devices, including personal computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
Protect Your Personal Information:
Just like adults, young people are also targeted by scammers looking to steal personal information.
- Avoid sharing your full name, address, phone number, birthday, Social Security number and passwords with anyone. Exercise caution when sharing information such as your favorite pet’s name and mother’s maiden name, which are common security questions;
- Use strong passwords—the longer and more complex, the better. Consider using a phrase, and include numbers, symbols and a combination of upper and lowercase letters in your passwords. These will make them harder to crack; and
- Be suspicious of “free” stuff; it may be malware in disguise. Avoid downloading anything unless it is from a trusted source or if you have scanned it with security software. When in doubt, ask a trusted adult to review the download.
Watch Out for Phishing Attempts:
Phishing occurs when someone pretends to be someone else to get you to share your personal information. Phishing can come in the form of an email, text or other type of direct message. The following tips are helpful to avoid phishing attempts:
- Avoid engaging in online conversations with those you aren’t familiar with;
- Don’t reply to messages that ask for personal or financial information. Do not click on links in the messages;
- Don’t enter any contests, join clubs or share personal or financial information for any reason, unless your parents say it’s OK; and
- If you are playing an online game, don’t click on links redirecting you to third parties claiming to provide items for the games. Only use official game websites.
Piracy and P2P File Sharing:
While peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing can be a convenient way to share music, games or software, it can also present risks and may run afoul with the law. If not set up properly, P2P software can provide access to your private files to many people.
- Limit what you share. When installing the software, make sure you know which folders will be made public. Make sure that the folders you share do not contain any private documents;
- Be careful about what you download. Some files may hide malware. Install reputable anti-virus software and run security patches often; and
- Don’t download copyrighted material; downloading certain commercial games, software, music and movies without paying for them is against the law.
- The Federal Trade Commission has posted a number of resources about these and related topics that youth and their parents can review here.