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FBI: know how to watch your back online

Posted at 10:22 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 13:01:17-05

The Internet is a place where people can shop, network, mingle and learn -- but also a hotbed for criminal activity, according to the FBI. Now, more than ever, people are more susceptible to falling victim to cyber crimes.

"People ought to be worried about computer crimes and being targeted online. The amount of cyber criminal activity has increased," Martin Hellmer said. 

Hellmer is an FBI supervising special agent of the Phoenix Division's Cyber Task Force. He feels that as more and more people are logging onto the Internet, increasing the amount of inner-connectivity, people need to know how to watch their backs online.

"Criminals have flooded the Internet in hopes of taking advantage of victims who are naïve," Hellmer said. "It is a target rich environment right now."

The criminals could be working with large-scale operations, they could be lone-wolves hacking from home. Regardless of who they are and where they come from, Hellmer says they often are trying to get people's money.

Not all cyber crimes are financially motivated, according to the FBI special agent. Sometimes, hackers hijack a website in order to promote a social or political agenda. 

"People are being naïve if they believe they are not susceptible to criminals, or being targeted online," he said.

He advises people be extra cognizant of emails -- who's sending the email? What is their reason? Why would they send an attachment?

When it comes to passwords, Hellmer explained they should contain a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters, combined with numbers and symbols.

His other important cyber self-defense tips include updating computer software and always having an anti-virus security system in place. 

If you do become a victim of a cyber crime, the FBI says do not pay the hacker to get your information back. Rather, the FBI urges you report the crime to your local FBI office as well as filing a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).