3 Simple Ways to Defeat a Cybercriminal.

Protecting against cybercrime.

Consider this for a moment: the smartphone in your pocket is a million times more powerful than the Apollo Guidance Computer that NASA used to put Neil Armstrong on the moon.

Since that time advances in technology have simplified our lives, but we often dismiss the dangers associated with them. It’s more important than ever to protect yourself from the growing threat of identity theft, phishing scams, and hacking.

Here are three simple ways to help you do just that:

1. Create stronger passwords:

If you had to guess, what would you say the most popular password was in 2018? Like most years, the answer is 123456 — with password coming in a close second. At some point, we’ve all used a password because it was easy to remember; the problem is, doing so is like leaving your house unlocked after your neighbors have been robbed.

Follow these tips to create stronger passwords and protect your accounts:

      • Make sure they’re between 8 and 12 characters long.
      • Mix uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
      • Use an online password generator.
      • Do not use the same password for all your accounts and devices.
2. Don’t use free Wi-Fi:

Each morning you stop by the same café, order a $6 cup of coffee, and check your email. It may seem like free Wi-Fi is the least they can do after charging a premium for their coffee, but logging on could be very costly.

Every time you connect to public Wi-Fi, you’re exposing your device to hackers, as well as any data you’ve stored in the cloud. That seemingly nice guy sitting by the window could be quietly collecting everyone’s credit card numbers, personal information, and even their embarrassing photos (which can be used in blackmail).

 3. Know who you’re talking to:

Just last week I received an urgent email from a friend who said he’d been mugged while on vacation; they took his money, credit cards, and phone. He explained that he only needed enough money to get through the next three days and would pay me back as soon as he got home — sounds reasonable, right?

The only problem: he was sitting next to me when I received the email.

Not only had this cybercriminal sent a message from an account that appeared correct, but they’d also sent it while my friend was supposed to be in Italy. If it hadn’t been for a last-minute change of plans, I’d have thought he was in trouble.

With our ever-growing reliance on technology to communicate, it’s important we know exactly who we’re speaking with. If you receive an email, instant message, or text message from a friend or family member that feels off — especially if they’re asking for money — contact the sender using another method. The safest way is by phone, but make sure to call a number you know is theirs, not the one provided in the questionable message.

Keeping Rhode Island cyber safe.

Following these three simple tips will help keep you a step ahead of those looking to take advantage of strangers. If you’d like to learn more about cybersecurity, you’re in luck — United Way of Rhode Island recently partnered with the Cybercrime Support Network. Now, 2-1-1 can assist Rhode Islanders impacted by cybercrime, as well as educate communities across the state about cybersafety.


By: Jason Boulay,
Project Manager Digital Media Marketing,
UWRI