The BBB sheds light on how to avoid "cyber criminals"

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COLUMBIA - The month of October marks Cyber Security Awareness Month for the mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau.

Manager of the mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau Mike Harrison said this is the 11th annual Cyber Security Awareness Month. This year's theme is titled, "Our Shared Responsibility." This month's goal is for people to realize Internet safety includes everyone.

"It's creating awareness of cyber security, but that it isn't just one organization, one government agency that is responsible for online safety, it's all of us," Harrison said.

The mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau is one of 200 organizations nationwide that is participating in the Cyber Security Awareness Month as part of a national campaign from the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Harrison said one of the things they want consumers aware of is the act of "phishing." This is where cyber criminals will send emails appearing as something familiar asking for information.

"With phishing you've got scammers posing as a legitimate company via e-mail and they attempt to steal your information, whether it's personal or financial information," Harrison said.

Harrison said a good example of that can be seen with the data breeches of companies like Jimmy Johns, Home Depot, and Target.

"Scammers are sending out tons and tons of e-mail's saying your accounts have been frozen because of an identity breech and that you need to share with them your account information to start using your card again," Harrison said.

Harrison said this year the campaign will also target social media users. The Better Business Bureau said cybercriminals are now posing as celebrities and posting links with enticing titles. Once someone clicks on these links, it directs them to a third party website that can steal their information or give their computer a virus.

"The Better Business Bureau, as a whole, is working with McAfee, a company with anti-virus software, and put together a list of the ‘Top 10 Most Dangerous Celebrities'," Harrison said. The celebrities most often imitated are listed below.



Nate's Computer Repair store manager Marcus Files said people often come in with viruses due to clicking on links from social media.

"I have had reports of people coming in here that have clicked on Facebook or YouTube videos and shortly there after their computers start to act erratically or they've been locked out completely," Files said.

Files said that once a virus has taken over, it could cost people to have the virus removed.

"Depending on the severity of the virus, and depending how much you're willing to pay for the repair, definitely at least 100 dollars for any kind of virus removal," Files said. "That's from what I've seen, pretty standard of the industry."

Files said the biggest tip he has for Internet users is to get your computer regularly checked and updated.

"We usually tell people to come in about once a year or sooner this is just for us to do a clean up of the computer and while it's in here we can also look and see if anything is affecting it," Files said. "Some viruses remain dormant until clicked on or accessed by a specific program, so it's always good to have it checked out by a professional from time to time."

Harrison said other tips Internet users should be aware of include;
•Don't click on any links or attachments in a suspicious e-mail.
•Limit your information you share on social media.
•Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus software
•Have strong passwords to secure important personal and financial information. Harrison said he also suggests switching these passwords up from site to site.
•Be cautious about the links that you click on from social media sites.
•Be a good online citizen and practice good online habits.