The FBI advises about red flags to look for that might indicate that you are a victim: passwords not working, a large number of pop-up ads, unexplained online activity, slow-running devices and altered system settings.
If you are unlucky enough to be a victim of cybercrime, don’t hesitate to take action. In general, you should:
● Change your passwords on your personal computer or smartphone and any password-protected websites you visit (especially financial institutions).
● If you have protective software, such as antivirus software, run a full scan immediately to remove the malware from your device. For PCs, it may be necessary to completely reset your system to its original condition/settings – if you aren’t comfortable doing that, consult a professional. For smartphones, consider doing a factory reset, if you don’t have antivirus/malware scanning software.
● If you are a victim of a ransomware attack (malware has encrypted your device’s data files and demands ransom to decrypt) and have a remote, multi-version backup of your device’s files (e.g. Carbonite), you may be able to restore all files after the ransomware virus is removed. If you don’t have a remote, multi-version backup, but have do-it-yourself spirit, check out the No More Ransom project at website https://www.nomoreransom.org/en/decryption-tools.html . If this is daunting to you, consult a professional.
● File a complaint with your local police department or district attorney’s office and, if needed, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center – known as the IC3. A complaint can be submitted at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
● If you believe that your personal identity has been stolen (i.e. identity theft) – for example, that someone can gain credit in your name or can steal from your online-accessible accounts – it’s time to do the following:
1) Contact the four main credit bureaus, your bank and investment companies.
2) Refer to the guidance at the IRS Taxpayer Guide at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft
3) File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-complaint-ftc .
4) Check out the Identity Theft Resource Centers at https://www.idtheftcenter.org/ .
● Check out the Cybercrime Support Network at www.fraudsupport.org. Founded in 2017, it offers support for cybercrime victims. In 2020, they introduced the Victims Resource Catalog where you can search for specific support by threat type and audience at https://fraudsupport.org/victim-resource-catalog/ .
● Regarding the Equifax breach, mentioned earlier, victims can seek financial restitution as the result of a settlement.
FOR FURTHER READING:
CyberGuardian: a SecureTheVillage Guide for Residents is available on Amazon.
A complete Security Checklist is available: https://www.nerdsiview.com/security-checklist-2/
References for Village Residents are available at SECURE THE VILLAGE: https://securethevillage.org/residents