How do I avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime?

Deborah Salmi, 10 October 2012

How do I avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime?

Question of the Week: I hear so much on the news about identify theft, scams and fake emails. How does a regular person with limited computer skills protect themselves?

Cybercriminals use a variety of tactics which can cause major inconvenience and hassle in your life - identity theft, financial fraud, stalking, bullying, hacking, email spoofing, information piracy and forgery, intellectual property crime, and more.

Many cybercrimes start with malware—short for “malicious software.” Malware is considered an annoying or hostile type of software intended for secretly accessing a computer without your knowledge or consent. It includes Trojans, worms, viruses, spyware, most rootkits, and other such unwanted intruders. Malware can be used to monitor your online activity, cause your device to crash damaging hardware, software or data in the process, and it can spread through networks of machines to infect others.

Where does malware come from?
Malware is most commonly delivered through the internet and by email messages. There are so many varieties that it can also come in through hacked webpages, game demos, music files, toolbars, software, free subscriptions, and other things you download from the web.

How does avast! protect me from malware?
All avast! Antivirus products prevent stealth malware that, when loaded by the computer’s operating system, are invisible to ordinary scanners. The most important part of the program are the real-time shields which work continuously to prevent your computer from becoming infected. They monitor all of your computer's activity, checking all programs and files at the moment a program is started or whenever a file is opened or closed.

Avoid malware with the following tips from STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

  • Keep a clean machine by making sure your security software, operating system and web browser are up to date
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t click on any links or open attachments unless you trust the source
  • Make your passwords long, strong and unique, and use a different password for each account. You can easily manage all your passwords with a password manager from Avast.
  • Set your browser security high enough to detect unauthorized downloads
  • Use a pop-up blocker (the links in pop-up ads are notorious sources of malware)
  • Back up your data regularly. Avast! offers avast! BackUp to protect all your files, photos, and music just in case your computer crashes.
  • Make sure all members of your family follow these safety tips (one infected computer on a home network can infect other computers)
  • Check suspicious files with the free avast! Online Scanner

Who do I report a suspected cybercrime to?

StaySafeOnline has tips on who to contact if you are a victim of cybercrime. It starts with local law enforcement. Some local agencies have detectives or departments that focus specifically on cybercrime. Complaints may be filed online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). They will thoroughly review and evaluate your complaint and refer it to the appropriate federal, state, local, or international law enforcement or regulatory agency that has jurisdiction over the matter. Check out StaySafeOnline website to find out what type of evidence you need to provide when you first report a cybercrime and tips for specific types of cybercrime.

Avast Software is proud to be a champion that supports National Cyber Security Awareness Month with news and tips on how, together, we can make a safer digital society.

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