AG stresses caution online

JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Attorney General Jim Hood says consumers and businesses can take steps to protest themselves.

He urged businesses and consumers to look for ways to be more secure online by applying safe cybersecurity practices.

“Companies and agencies must take basic precautions to block cyber thieves from their computer systems and electronic data to prevent a potential data breach," said Hood. "It is very important to train employees and not just assume they know computer security basics.”

Hood said his office compiled a Cybersecurity Guide that addresses growing trends and was designed especially to help small businesses, but it may also be helpful to larger companies and government agencies as well. The guide includes a list of suggested standards, a list of what not to do and an appendix of important FTC cases which provide further guidance.

Consumers may download a copy of the guide by clicking the attached link.

As for Mississippi consumers, Attorney General Hood encourages them to follow these simple steps to ensure the security of their personal information online:

• Keep your private information private. Avoid sharing your full name, address, and other personal information online unless you are providing that information to a trusted recipient in a secure online transaction. Frequently check a website’s privacy options to ensure you have enabled the highest level of privacy as options may get updated or changed completely. Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information unless it is encrypted.
• When in doubt, throw it out. Links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertisements are often how criminals compromise your computer or mobile device. If it looks suspicious, it’s best to delete it and do not click on any portion of the link. If appropriate, mark the message as “junk email” so that future messages from the sender do not end up in your inbox.
• Set strong passwords. Setting passwords that are long, unique, and hard to guess is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online accounts. Changing passwords regularly and using different passwords for different accounts goes a long way to protecting your online information.
• Secure your accounts. Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many websites now offer additional ways for you to verify your identity before you conduct business on their sites, such as two-factor authentication.
• Secure your mobile device. In order to prevent theft and unauthorized access, use a passcode to lock your mobile device and always lock it when it’s not in use. Never leave your mobile device unattended in a public place.
• Timely update antivirus and other cybersecurity software on your home and work computers.
• Monitor your online bank and credit accounts regularly.

For more information, visit the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office online by clicking the attached link or calling 800-281-4418.