AG Reminds Mississippians of Cyber Security Awareness Month
Jackson, MS- As we begin the month of October, Attorney General Jim Hood reminds Mississippians of Cyber Security Awareness month and ask that we continue to be cautious of internet crime that is consistently taking place.
“Internet crime in Mississippi can range from child pornography or exploitation to identity theft, email phishing scams or illegal downloads,” said Attorney General Hood. “It is most imperative that we keep a close eye on what our children are doing online.” .
The Attorney General’s Office formed the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force in 2007 with the ICAC Continuation Grant issued by the Department of Justice. The task force is dedicated to proactive and reactive investigations, the forensic analyses of electronic evidence, prosecutions of technological crimes against children, and the education of law enforcement and the public. The unit now has 55 local, state and federal law enforcement affiliate agencies and multi-disciplinary partners. In the fiscal year July 2012 through June 2013, members of the ICAC unit opened over 80 new cases and had over 40 convictions of child exploitation and child pornography.
“With the rise in online predators, our ICAC task force works hard daily to catch each one,” said Attorney General Hood. “Still, the best protection begins with parents whom I encourage to closely monitor their child’s internet activity.”
Follow these tips to help guard your children against cyber crime:
- Talk to your child about their activities online and caution them not to share certain information over the internet.
- Be familiar with popular chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and always maintain access to your child’s online account.
- Teach your child the responsible use of the resources on-line and show them how to delete and/or block harmful e-mails, photos or messages.
- Keep computers in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom, and consider instituting a “media curfew” limiting the time they can use the computer or internet.
- Report abuses or threats to the Attorney General’s office and your Internet Service Provider.
Identity theft and email phishing scams are also two big internet crimes that occur daily with new cons constantly arising. Identity theft is a fast growing crime on the internet through phishing scams attempting to steal your identity or to have you send money or even infect your computer with a virus.
Some tips to avoid these scams:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited e-mails of this nature.
- Do not click on any attachments associated with such emails, as they may contain viruses or malware.
- Educate yourself and your family on how the scam works.
- Be suspicious of anyone who emails unexpectedly and wants you to wire money–especially out of the country.
- Consider creating a “code word” or a “password” for your family to use in emergency situations as verification of identity and do not tell it to anyone outside of the family.
- If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email.
- Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information.
- If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”).
Illegal downloading (online piracy) of music, movies, software and other media files has become a popular way for young people to obtain copies of their favorite songs and movies. “Under Mississippi law, it is illegal to make and distribute copies of copyrighted material,” said Attorney General Hood. “Downloading or sharing copyrighted material without paying for it is a form of copyright infringement which is a crime.”
Be aware of:
- Free “peer-to-peer” sharing networks.
- Software that requires a one-time payment for unlimited downloads.
- Counterfeit copies.
- When in doubt, purchase the media from a reputable retailer such as iTunes.com or Pandora.com.
“Cyber crimes are fast growing here in Mississippi and the Attorney General’s Office is doing everything thing possible to help protect consumers and our children from scams and predators,” said Attorney General Hood.
Anyone needing to report a cyber crime can call the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit at 601-576-4281. Anyone who feels they have been targeted for identity theft or any other general scams, can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-281-4418. For more information on cyber crimes and consumer scams, or to fill out a complaint form, visit www.agjimhood.com.