What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. It seems that everything relies on computers and the internet now—communication (e.g., email, smartphones, tablets), entertainment (e.g., interactive video games, social media, apps ), transportation (e.g., navigation systems), shopping (e.g., online shopping, credit cards), medicine (e.g., medical equipment, medical records), and the list goes on. How much of your daily life relies on technology? How much of your personal information is stored either on your own computer, smartphone, tablet or on someone else’s system?

What are the risks to having poor cybersecurity?

There are many risks, some more serious than others. Among these dangers are malware erasing your entire system, an attacker breaking into your system and altering files, an attacker using your computer to attack others, or an attacker stealing your credit card information and making unauthorized purchases. There is no guarantee that even with the best precautions some of these things won’t happen to you, but there are steps you can take to minimize the chances.

Below is a link providing some “Best Practices” for your protection from the threats of Cybersecurity.


Cybersecurity for Families: Cyberbullying and Information Sharing

As technology continues to evolve, the tools and toys available to your children increase in number and evolve in capabilities. Technology can be used to educate and inspire creativity in kids, but it also exposes them to a risky landscape most of us didn’t have to worry about during childhood. Adults can discuss with children how the digital world is a great resource, but we must remain cyber aware. We all should be responsible with the information we share, and the ways we explore.

Keep Software Updated    

Think of all the devices in your household that connect to the internet – phones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, smart appliances, even lightbulbs! One of the most important things you can do to keep your devices safe is to ensure your devices are up to date and using the latest software. When your devices notify you about a software update, install the update right away, or set them to automatically update. Those updates contain security patches that close loopholes that hackers can use to gain entry and access your data like your passwords, payment information, photos, and more.

Always make sure you know what apps are on your children’s devices, know what those apps do, and what type of information they monitor or collect. This can be done easily by checking the app settings and privacy disclosures.

If you have children prone to installing anything that looks new and flashy, consider requiring a PIN or password you only know before allowing installation of new applications.

Implement Domain Name System (DNS) Filtering      

As we all know, surfing the web can be a risky business. While we can usually identify scams and malicious links, children may not catch on so quickly and see that the link their friend’s hacked account just sent them for a free game is a malicious website in disguise.

Implementing DNS filtering, which prevents devices on your network from connecting to known bad websites, is a free and easy way to help prevent everything from phishing and ransomware, to spyware and viruses. It is so useful, some of largest IT companies in the world have joined forces to provide it for free to public users. This includes no sign ups, tracking, or personal information saved by those providers. DNS filtering can even be set up on your home router with very little effort, which will help protect anyone or device on your entire network. DNS filtering services can also be used to implement parental controls to deter kids to going to unwanted or inappropriate websites. You can additionally limit kids’ screen time and monitor their online surfing activity if you choose to do so. By doing this, you can create a family-friendly online space in your home while also protecting your identity and blocking cyber-villains.

Free DNS filtering options for families –

• Quad 9: When your computer performs any Internet transaction that uses the DNS (and most transactions do), Quad9 blocks lookups of malicious host names from an up-to-the-minute list of threats. https://www.quad9.net/

• Cleanbrowsing: A free DNS system that focuses on privacy for households with children. It provides 3 free filter options and blocks most adult sites. https://cleanbrowsing.org/

• OpenDNS: Owned by Cisco, OpenDNS has two free options: Family Shield and Home. These are incredibly useful for monitoring and preventing adult site access as well as general internet safety and performance. https://www.opendns.com/

Talk to Your Kids   

Finally, make sure you talk to your kids about cybersecurity. Just like other issues that have the potential to harm our children, keeping an open line of communication regarding cybersecurity is vital to keeping them safe.

Outside of adjusting privacy settings and parental controls on devices your kids use, make sure they learn how to spot unusual behavior and encourage them to tell you about it. Teach your kids about proper online etiquette and encourage appropriate interactions.

Supervise their screen time and make sure you are in the know about who they talk to and interact with online. Talk to them about the importance of keeping some information private – such as your name, home address, and phone number.

Check their apps and devices frequently to make sure your kids haven’t turned on location sharing or made their social media accounts public to anyone and everyone. As they get older, remind them that once information is online it can’t be taken back – it’s online forever.

Cybersecurity was not something past generations of parents had to worry about when raising their children but is a big part of all our lives now. And even though we may not like all that comes with these technologies, they’re here to stay and it is imperative that we teach our children how to responsibly and safely use them. Let’s give our children the foundation they need to be able to safely and securely engage in today’s connected world.


Telephone Scams

Telephone scammers try to steal your money or personal information. Scams may come through phone calls from real people, robocalls, or text messages. The callers often make false promises, such as opportunities to buy products, invest your money, or receive free product trials. They may also offer you money through free grants and lotteries. Some scammers may call with threats of jail or lawsuits if you don’t pay them.

Report Telephone Scams

Reporting scams to federal agencies helps them collect evidence for lawsuits against people committing these scams. However, federal agencies don’t investigate individual cases of telephone scams.

Also report the scam to your state consumer protection office. Some consumer protection offices help residents resolve consumer problems. 

How to Protect Yourself

Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a telephone scam:


  • Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may register online or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that the calls are scams.
  • Be wary of callers claiming that you’ve won a prize or vacation package.
  • Hang up on suspicious phone calls.
  • Be cautious of caller ID. Scammers can change the phone number that shows up on your caller ID screen. This is called “spoofing.”
  • Research business opportunities, charities, or travel packages separately from the information the caller has provided.


  • Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.
  • Don’t say anything if a caller starts the call asking, “Can you hear me?” This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying “yes.” Scammers record your “yes” response to use as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.
  • Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.
  • Don’t send money if the caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

Banking Scams

Banking scams involve attempts to access your bank account. Some popular banking scams include:

  • Overpayment scams –  A scam artist sends you a counterfeit check. They tell you to deposit it in your bank account, and wire part of the money back to them. Since the check was fake, you’ll have to pay your bank the amount of the check, plus you’ll lose any money you wired.
  • Unsolicited check fraud – A scammer sends you a check for no reason. If you cash it, you may be authorizing the purchase of items or signing up for a loan you didn’t ask for.
  • Automatic withdrawals – A company sets up an automatic debit from your bank account, as part of a free trial or to collect lottery winnings.
  • Phishing – You receive an email message that asks you to verify your bank account or debit card number.

Report Banking Scams

The proper organization to report a banking scam to depends on which type you were a victim of.

How to Protect Yourself

Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a banking scam:


  • Be suspicious if you are told to wire a some of funds from a check back to a company.
  • Be wary of lotteries or free trials that ask for your bank account number.
  • Verify the authenticity of a cashier’s check with the bank that it is drawn on before depositing a check.
  • When verifying a check or the issuer, use contact information on a bank’s website.


  • Don’t trust the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look legitimate and official.
  • Don’t deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.
  • Don’t wire money to people or companies you don’t know.
  • Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.
  • Don’t click on links in email to verify your bank account.
  • Don’t accept a check that includes an overpayment.