from the Aware Force Cybersecurity Team
Keeping you safer as you work online

What questions do you have about staying safe online?

Here's what some of your colleagues are asking.

“My friends are getting invitations to start following me on Facebook. But I already have a Facebook account. What’s going on?” — Barbara W.

Answer: Two possible causes — one dangerous, one not so much.


Most often, fraudsters have set up a copy of your Facebook account using personal information along with a few photos from your feed and are trying to gain access to your friends’ accounts by sending them invitations to connect. Facebook is good at spotting and deleting these fake accounts and your risk is low. Ignore the warnings. Reduce the chances of this happening by visiting your Facebook “settings” page and make sure only friends can see what you post, not "everyone."


The other cause is more serious. Here, crooks have taken over your Facebook account because your password was easy to guess. If you're unable to log in to your account, you need to get back control. Visit Facebook’s “Help” section for step-by-step instructions on resetting your password and reclaiming your account. Make sure your new password is a long phrase (at least 15 characters), not easily guessed, and includes special characters such as *&^%$#.

“I’m getting all these text messages from people I don’t know. How do I make it stop?” — Cameron N.

Answer: Hey, you’re not alone!


Texts are cheap to send and crooks can easily make a text message appear to come from a legitimate friend or business. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to avoid unsolicited texts.


Do NOT respond to the text with a message to “stop” or try to unsubscribe unless you’re certain it was sent from a real business, and don’t click on links that appear in a text message!


Clicking just lets the scammer know your phone number is active. You can manually block the number a text comes from, but don’t expect it to do much good.


Your best bet is to safeguard your mobile phone number by not giving it out.

“I worry about hackers getting access to my computer overnight when I’m not using it. Should I turn it off at the end of the day?” — Ben S.

Answer: You don’t have to power your computer down every night. Just put it in sleep mode after you’re finished.


It is a good idea to restart your computer about once a week. If you’ll be away on an extended vacation (do people still take vacations?), consider powering down the computer and unplugging it to prevent damage in case of a power surge.


As for protecting your computer from cyber crooks, start with the device you use to connect to the internet (the “router”). Make sure it’s protected by a long password.


Also, give your home network a name that doesn’t identify you. If you can’t find the router’s instruction manual, just jot down the brand name and model number and do a web search to find the manual online.

Have a cybersecurity question? Let us know!

Social media’s growing impact

Do you get your news from Facebook? More than one in three Americans say they do. Pew Research Center says YouTube ranks second, Twitter third.


Despite the controversy surrounding social media platforms, 12% of all ad dollars will be spent on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram this year, representing a huge increase over 2020. The World Ad Research Center says newspapers and magazines will suffer massive declines in ad revenues as a result.

Websites designed to steal personal information on the rise

We’re getting better at spotting fake phishing emails, but there are still significant risks.


AtlasVPN says a record 2.1 million new phishing websites were created last year. Most fake sites are designed to look like banks and online stores.


These sites are usually designed for victims to enter usernames and passwords, which have often been used on other websites.

Cyber bytes: The messaging platform WhatsApp will soon require users to share their personal information with its owner, Facebook. As a result, downloads of the competing messaging app Signal have grown by nearly 700% since the beginning of this year. ... MediaPost says 45 million people downloaded the Disney+ app in 2020, making it the most popular entertainment app in the world. Netflix was #2. ... Make sure all those holiday gifts you ordered actually arrived. The US Chamber of Commerce says online shopping grew 31% last year, but online shopping fraud grew 391%. 

You may think fraudsters aren't interested in your family's personal information or what you do on the job. But they are. Taking a few simple steps can go a long way toward protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your employer.

Click on the image to download and then print these easy ways to stay safer online. 

Aware Force | Target Jan 2021.001.jpeg

Aware Force Cybersecurity News • January 2021 b • Edition #112

Photos by Florin Chivu.

Cyber cartoon © 2020

Original content © 2021 Aware Force LLC

Aware Force is a registered trademark