Protect Yourself Online
Welcome to the MassCyberCenter’s Internet Safety page, a project of the MassTech Collaborative.
A focus for the MassCyberCenter during Massachusetts Cybersecurity Week 2019 is to equip older Massachusetts residents with helpful resources that will allow them to build the right skills so they can identify potential issues online and avoid falling prey to cybercriminals or other online scams.
Our hope is these cybersecurity resources help you build more confidence as you use email, search websites, and shop online. We’ve assembled this page into a library of tools and resources that will help lead to a better and safer online experience. They are organized into three categories so you can confidently:
Recognize potential threats;
Review what happened; and
Respond to the threat appropriately.
If you want to outsmart a scammer, it’s best that you’re one step ahead of them and able to identify the tricks of their trade. Here are some great resources for identifying online scams:
- Recognize the key traits of online scams: In this nifty guide from AARP, you’ll learn about the three traits found in nearly every online scam: Urgency to act quickly, a financial transaction, and it’s too good to be true;
- Recognize where you could improve your online security: Improve your existing passwords, home network security, and more with this page from the National Cyber Security Alliance;
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has several guides on recognizing the most common online scams:
- How to recognize phishing scams: Phishing scams look like official communications from a business or coworker that ask you to click a link or open an attachment.
- How to recognize a romance scam: If you’re using the internet to find love, avoid people who work abroad, always seem unable to meet in person, or ask for money so they can visit you.
- How to recognize tech support scams: Tech support scammers use a variety of tactics to scare you into believing that your device is in trouble and you must do something to resolve it immediately, or else.
- How to recognize if your email or social media has been hacked: This guide explores how you can tell if your accounts have been hacked and what you can do about it.
Once you’ve identified a scam or scammer, you’ll want to review what happened so you can plan what to do next. Don't panic, don't respond. You’ll need to know what the scammer was looking for, where they targeted you, and, what, if anything happened to your device. The National Cyber Security Alliance has some great resources on how to handle online scammers:
- Review how you've been hacked or look into how your device was compromised: First - don’t panic. There are steps you can take to recover and restore any damages.
- Determine whether it was spam (digital junk mail) or phishing (an attempt to get your financial or personal info)?: This is important when identifying the severity of the potential scam.
- Check your computer security software settings: Checking your security settings and updating your software is critical. Run a check of your antivirus and security software to make sure your computer is OK or
Once you’ve reviewed what happened you’ll need to respond to it appropriately. The level of response can range from merely reporting something as spam, to contacting a trusted friend for help, or in the extreme cases, to contacting law enforcement.
- Report emails as spam and report emails as phishing: These two explainers from Google show you how to successfully report unwanted spam and phishing emails to email or system administrators. This is an important step to take because it helps improve security filters that stop spam and phishing emails.
- Register a complaint with the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center: This step will lead to a thorough review of your complaint with the FBI. When completed it will be assigned to the appropriate authorities for next steps.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Filing a complaint with the FTC helps law enforcement identify similar threats so they can better conduct investigations and stop threats before they happen.
- Contact the Massachusetts Attorney General: If you believe you have been the victim of a cyber crime, you can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General.
- Report and recover from identity theft: If you believe your identity has been stolen, you can report the incident to the FTC and start immediately on a plan to recover your identity and more.
Additional Cybersecurity Resources
Download our Stay Safe Online! informational flyer. Print for yourself to keep as a reminder and share with friends and family to help others stay safe.