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By Julia Phillips   October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the Better Business Bureau has some tips to keep students safe while using the internet on a daily basis. In 2017, identity theft reports to BBB scam tracker increased by 49 percent with a total of about 700 scams, up from 350 reported in 2016. Victims in 2016 also reported  about 1,200 phishing scams to BBB. From January to September 2017, phishing victims reported more than 11,000 scams —an increase of 89 percent. BBB and the National Cyber Security Alliance urge consumers and businesses to give hackers a scare and be cyber aware with these tips: Be vigilant with personal information. Think of personal information like money: value and protect it. Also be sure to be on a legitimate site before entering personal information. Additionally, be wary of communications that pressure people to act immediately or offer something that sounds too good to be true. Get two steps ahead. Users should consider looking for a new laptop or cell phone that incorporates the strongest authentication tools such as two-factor authentication. This tool requires users to not only sign in with a password and username but also something extra only the user knows or something they have such as a fingerprint or face for facial recognition. Keep machines updated. To keep online threats, viruses and malware away, consumers should make sure all devices have the latest security software. Updating devices can reduce the risk of infection from malware. Be careful when clicking. Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal personal information. If something looks suspicious, delete it. Sophomore Trevor Heater works with ATUS as a computer assistant at the ATUS Help Desk and suggests if anyone has fallen for a scam, they should change their universal password immediately, Heater said in an email. Check what sensitive information, such as direct deposit information, addresses, and phone numbers they have on their Web4U or email, and make sure those things aren’t being used by the scammers, Heater said. “Most of the scams or phishing emails come from people that claim they work at Western or are an official employee that needs information urgently,” Heater said. The emails are always different but one pattern is the same: they ask for private information such as passwords or sign-in information. “The phishing emails occur at different rates throughout the year,” Heater said. “People have always tried to phish for private information from students and faculty but are usually unsuccessful.” The emails they send are usually poorly worded and come from long strange email addresses that are clear signs of fraudulence, so people tend to know whether or not they are fake, Heater said. Remember to never give anyone your password. No one needs to know it but you, Heater said.

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