As National Cyber Security Awareness Month continues, Attorney General Mike DeWine urges Ohioans to be proactive in protecting themselves and their families.
"As Ohioans continue the use of cell phones, tablets, and the Internet both for business and to keep connected with family and friends, I want to remind everyone to be careful and use good safety practices in cyber space," said Attorney General DeWine.
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) recognizes October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month to promote awareness and education about being safe online and protecting our personal information that is sent through electronic communications.
According to a recent NCSA/McAfee national online safety study of 1,000 adults, 90 percent do not feel completely safe online. Most worrisome to respondents was the possibility of identity theft. Other concerns included a malware or virus infection, having their financial information hacked, and falling victim to an online scam.
Attorney General DeWine's office offers a variety of information and services that can help Ohioans of all ages to protect themselves when using the Internet or cell phone communications.
Tips for keeping youth safe online include:
Remind children anything sent via the Internet or a cell phone can be recovered or forwarded. Senders of certain inappropriate images can potentially face school discipline, loss of academic scholarships, or criminal charges in some cases. If children receive inappropriate material on their phone or in email, they should not delete it and tell a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher or law enforcement officer.
Never send personal information to strangers or agree to personally meet with someone encountered online.
Report when children are being cyberbullied and approached by potential predators to law enforcement, cell phone and Internet providers, and cybertipline.com.
Tips for online consumer protection include:
Watch out for "phishing" - scammers pretend to be a bank, or government agency, and in an email or text message ask you to provide your account information. Never respond to unexpected requests for personal or private information.
If you receive text messages that you've won a prize or a gift card, even from well-known companies, they are likely scams. Do not respond.
Anytime a web page asks you for sensitive information, you need to be able to identify if the page is secure. Normally, a web page address will begin with the letters "http". However, a secure connection's address display should begin with "https" - note the "s" at the end. Or you should see a "lock" icon at the bottom of the page. Make sure your anti-virus, firewall, and other personal computer security applications are up-to-date. Change your passwords regularly. For example, the NCSA study indicated that 42 percent have never changed the passwords they use on social media sites.
Do not trust caller ID. Scammers can use the Internet to trick caller ID into showing any number or area code.
If your personal information has been stolen and you believe you are a victim of identity theft, first file a police report. You also can visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call 800-282-0515 to learn about assistance available to help restore credit harmed by identity theft.
Attorney General DeWine also reminds Ohio high school students to enter the 2012 Take Action Video Contest, which promotes scam awareness and prevention, and invites all consumers to sign up for the free Consumer Advocate electronic newsletter produced by his office.
For information about the Take Action Video Contest, the Consumer Advocate, and additional information about scams, please visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call (800)282-0515.