To help ensure our safety, do you remember what our parents told us? “Look both ways before crossing the street.” “Don’t play with matches.” “Don’t run with scissors.” And “Never talk to strangers.” We heard these ad nauseum until the messages were forever etched in our minds. So much, we carried on the tradition, reiterating these warnings to our children and adding many: “The car won’t start until you put on your seat belt.” “Don’t drink, but if you do, call me and I will pick you up”.

This fear seems miniscule compared to the fear I have witnessed from Throomers with respect to the Internet. I liken their fear to the look on Jamie Lee Curtis’ face when she met her demise in Halloween. Certainly, there are many real threats out there, and we need to take them very seriously and protect ourselves. A few of you may even have fallen victim to various internet scams. You need to be diligent in deploying good habits to protect yourself. Using these repeatedly until they are over-learned, will greatly reduce your risk.

Although you can’t eliminate internet scammers, you can lessen your exposure from cyber scams; much like lights, good locks, and dogs greatly reduce the risk of a burglar choosing your home. Your home might get burglarized, but most likely the criminal will move on to another house void of deterrents. These good safety measures will encourage the cyber perp go elsewhere.

Below are some threats / risks you may or may not be familiar with.


Most of us are familiar with this term due to news coverage over the years of several large organizations that have been hacked and hackers stealing personal and financial information. Target, Marriott and Equifax are a few of the biggies. Hackers know how to break into systems or defy rules of computer programs. Probably the most common and most prolific threat.

  • Change your passwords often and make them complicated. Today, many sites require at least 8 digits, upper and lower case, a mix of alpha and numeric with a special symbol.
  • Always update your Operating System (OS).
  • Location services are great for some things, including people who want to take advantage of you. Be careful using location settings in social media sites.
  • Do not create public profiles that include too much personal information such as your address, where you bank, etc.
  • Make sure your WiFi is password protected!


A person whose intent is to cause trouble or make people angry online. Not usually out to scam, but they might use some scamming techniques.

These people obviously did not get enough attention when they were kids. They are both sad and pitiful. Just ignore them. Don’t give them an audience.


Software installed on a computer that has malicious intent. Depending on design, malware can turn on cameras/microphones, steal data, corrupt data, or connect to other computers on a system.

  • Run your anti-virus check regularly (schedule automatically) on your computer and make sure your anti-virus program is up to date with the latest.
  • Keep your Operating System (OS) current.
  • Remember new threats are created daily, and outdated software is ineffective.
  • Back up your data to the cloud or a backup drive often in the event malware totally infects your PC.


A type of scam that prompts the user to click on something like “You have just won! Click here to claim your prize” or “You have several threats on your computer call Microsoft at 800-867-5309 to resolve.”

  • Never ever click on one of these messages. If one pops up saying you won something, quickly run your virus scan.
  • The first time I experienced the Microsoft one, I was about to call them; but thought…”Hmmm when I call Microsoft, I’m on hold and find it very difficult to get anyone on the support line, they can’t be this proactive. Something smells.” I Googled the message and found it was a scam. Google is omniscient! Google should be your best friend.


A fake login screen that is a duplicate of a legitimate one. Criminals use the entered user name and password to gain access to the real site. The user commonly links to the phishing site through an email that prompts them to login in via a link.

  • THIS IS HUGE! Never, ever get into any site from an email you received and don’t open these emails. Not matter how much it looks like Chase Bank, or Visa, or one of your brokerage accounts.
  • NEVER provide any personal information in a text or email to someone you do not know (really well).
  • Your bank, brokerage firm, utility companies, doctor, or any legitimate business will NOT ask you for personal information in an email or a text message. PERIOD!
  • I almost fell for this one a few months back. See picture below. This Paypal email looked real. They wanted me to change my password. I clicked on the email address and although it initially looked like it came from Paypal, the real email address was phony. This is like the one I received. Look at the email address. The domain is outlook, not Paypal. Regardless, NO organization will ask you for sensitive information via an email.


The act of creating a fake account with someone else’s pictures and details and then using that account to lure victims. Though sometimes innocently used to meet people, Catfishers are often looking to extort something: data, images, or money.

  • This is big on the dating sites and also used in Phishing techniques.
  •  People on dating sites should be aware of profiles written in broken English, with one picture with little personal information. Catfishers gain trust over time and then ask for money. Believe it or not, people give it to them without meeting. There is even a TV program called “Catfish” that tracks down the other person to see if they are real.
  • With Phishing, one ploy is to inform you that your grandson or granddaughter is stranded and lost their phone, wallet or purse. They act as the intermediary and ask you to wire money. This is a pretty old scam, somewhat like the Nigerian scams.


In the next issue, Cybersecurity (Part Deux), we will explore cyber safety while using social media, shopping and banking on the internet.