DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2013) – Cybercrime knows no boundaries. From government databases and large corporations to home computers and mobile devices, none are immune from thieves set on stealing valuable information.
College students, who by and large have incorporated social networking and mobile computing into the fabric of their lives, are especially vulnerable to cybercrime. According to the Federal Trade Commission, college students comprise 24 percent of identity theft victims.
With October officially designated Cyber Security Awareness Month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Daytona State College cyber security expert and computer engineering professor Dr. Philip Craiger offers a few tips on how to keep one’s home computer and mobile device safe and secure.
“Your most valuable tool to fight against cybercrime is common sense,” said Craiger, who, along with Dr. Mark Pollitt, heads the Southeastern Advanced Cybersecurity Education Consortium (ACE), a group of nine colleges funded by the National Science Foundation working to advance cyber forensic education in the southeastern United States. “Before you share personal information, ask yourself if the website you’re on can be trusted.”
While computer security is a broad topic, Craiger said it can be boiled down to three issues: ensuring your information remains private, that it remains in its original state (someone did not change your birth date, address, etc.) and that you have information available to you when you need it.
Here are his top five tips to secure computing devices (desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet):
1. Have a backup of your data. It ensures you have access to your information when you need it. It’s much easier to make a backup of your important information than to pay someone to recover your priceless data, if it can be recovered at all.
2. Be careful what you click on. The ‘bad guys’ rely upon a variety of human emotions to gain access to your computer and your information: greed, sex, curiosity, etc. Email scams are commonplace. The senders of these scam emails have only one intent: to separate you from your money. Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid replying or clicking on any link associated with this type of email.
3. Use different usernames and passwords for every website. Many people make the mistake of using the same username and password on every website (banking, shopping, email, gaming and hobbies). Let’s say you have an account on ‘ilovefishing.org.’ If someone is able to guess your username and password on that site, and you use the same for your banking site, bye-bye savings and checking account.
5. Install and use anti-virus protection. There are hundreds of thousands of ‘malware’ versions (viruses, trojans, worms, etc.), and dozens more are developed every day. The result of a computer infection varies, but it’s safe to say that none are beneficial to you, or others. The best way to prevent your computer from being infected is to use anti-virus (AV) protection. Some AV software is free (Microsoft Essentials), whereas others require payment (usually under $30). It’s a small price to pay to reduce the possibility of your computer being infected.
The field of cybersecurity will see an increased demand in coming years, with the number of job openings growing by more than 20 percent annually through 2020. Cyber forensics professionals gather, process, interpret and use digital evidence related to cybercrime. Evidence gathered in their investigations often is used in criminal prosecutions. The field also involves the study of evidence from attacks on computer systems to learn how they occurred, the extent of damage and possible means to prevent them from recurring.
Daytona State already teaches digital forensics courses as part of several associate of science degrees and its Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology. Cybersecurity also will be a component of Daytona State’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program starting in January 2014.
Craiger and Pollitt are among the nation’s leading experts in cyber forensics. Pollitt is a 30-year veteran of the United States Marines, Coast Guard and FBI, where he was chief of its computer forensic unit and director of the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory Program. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Prior to joining Daytona State, Craiger was assistant director of the University of Central Florida’s National Center for Forensic Science. He also is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.