Mobile Cybersecurity…Things Really Have Gotten Wild!

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the AFFIRM Luncheon for an awesome talk on the state of cybercrime worldwide. Donald Codling, Unit Chief and DHS Liaison, Cyber Division from the FBI, took us through a very informative presentation on the topic of cybercrime on a mobile scale. I never knew there were so many people out to get my money and information online and on my phone!

Today’s mobile security can be compared to the Wild West. Take for instance this example. A cyber criminal who lives in the Ukraine hacks into your computer by sending you a very compelling email with a spyware loaded link. You believe him when he sends you a document “from your boss” or “from the government” and he infiltrates your system. You log on to your online banking and the spyware gathers all of your passwords and information. Now your money is Mr. Ukraine’s. Ah, but it isn’t going to the Ukraine…it’s going to Ghana. Why? Because Ghana doesn’t have cyber security crime laws. From there the money get’s transfered even more until it ends up with Mr. Ukraine on vacation in the Seychelles islands, and you are have lost it all.

US Agencies like the FBI and DHS and the USSS are pulling out all the stops to not only keep individuals safe from these malicious acts here in the United States, but are also training governments worldwide (in places like Africa where the money goes to) to effectively and efficiently stop cybercrime in its tracks.

But in the end, it all starts with us. We live in a world where it is becoming easier to complete tasks on the go, but we have to be smart about it. We must be the ones who are ahead of the game and taking control of how we use our devices:

Lesson 1: Always have updated malware/spyware protection software installed on your computer.

Lesson 2: Avoid doing online banking on the same computer/device that you check Facebook on. Cyber criminals target social networking sites with links and spam all the time. If you must, completely close the browser and open a fresh one before logging into your bank’s website.

Lesson 3: Be careful what you do on your mobile device. Smart phones aren’t safe from cyber crime.

Lesson 4: Use websites like http://www.ic3.gov to educate yourself on cyber crimes as well as file any complaints.

The faster, easier, and more mobile our lives go, the riskier it is to send out important information.

Do you have experience with cybercrime? What do you find are the best practices/tips towards keeping your personal information safe?


AFFIRM is a non-profit, volunteer, educational organization whose overall purpose is to improve the management of information, and related systems and resources, within the Federal government. AFFIRM supports IRM/IT educational opportunities by conducting seminars and related educational sessions.

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Jeff Ribeira

Those are some great lessons, Shannon. Really like the Wild West analogy. I might add my own personal, very simple web safety tip, that I’m surprised they didn’t mention…don’t click on stuff! I’ve watched the web browsing habits of many a friend, and I’m always shocked at the recklessness and lack of perception these people have as they just flippantly click on every link and web page thrown at them! I just don’t get it. Completely blows my mind. And they wonder why their computer seems to always be infected. Don’t open emails, don’t go to webpages, and never click on links that you don’t recognize or trust. Mr. Ukraine wouldn’t even have your bank info if you never clicked on the link to begin with. He also probably wouldn’t have your email address if you didn’t give your contact information to that random website giving away a free iPad! Yes, it is really that simple. Like you said, we have to be smart about everything we do on the web.

End Rant.

Brandon Nachbar

Mobility is going to be a huge focus in 2011, and that means securing all the mobile end users out there. From mobile phones to tablets, there is already an influx of companies ready to capitalize on this new market, the problem is keeping the organizations proactive. Like insurance, security should be the first thing IT departments think about when adding new devices to their networks, but it’s usually only an afterthought. Also, updated security awareness training is more important now than ever for all levels of employee, and should be enforce on a yearly basis. It’s the easiest way to make sure security is in the front of everyone’s minds and helps prevent the little, stupid mistakes that can wind up costing big bucks.

Isiah Jones

make sure your browser settings are set to delete all cookies, cached and saved pages etc upon closing the browser and/or tab. You can also do this on many smart phones now (e.g. iPhone 3g, 4 etc under general settings, safari or whatever other browser app you download). Most good banking sites now have site keys and ask you if you want them to remember the device.etc..ALWAYS SAY NO…never, even on your same phone or laptop etc ever let any site remember your device. It’d be smart to put a pass lock on your cell phones…set it to auto lock in 5 minutes or less. I know sounds anal but since most people drop, lose or lay their phones down it’s not smart for it to be unlocked these days. It use to be those with kids did it so the kiddies don’t figure out bad things on the phone. BTW, for some reason the little angels can figure out how to unlock the phones even as toddlers lol. But now you need to lock your phones period.

Have strong, long and mixed character passwords for your pc/mac and get a cheap 250 gb plus external portable hard drive from places like Best Buy for sometimes cheaper than a usb drive with less memory lol. Back up your pc/mac at least weekly or biweekly and password the heck out of the drive so it can’t be used without the password. If you’re hacked or have issues you’ll make your restore efforts much easier.

Never check emails in one tab while logged in or logging into your bank online etc. It’s possible to do almost anything safely if you’re smart about it…no need to not bank online with your mobile device…it’s all in how you use mobile tech. Of course it’s still lagging in the security area compared to non mobile tech.