Prevention & Internet Safety

The number of cyber attacks has grown exponentially over the past few years. In 2012, for example, Symantec reported that the number of malicious cyber attacks jumped 81 percent in 2011. Mobile vulnerabilities increased by 93 percent. Meanwhile, Symantec identified 403 million unique malware variants, and they blocked more than 5.5 billion malware attacks in 2011.   Data breaches continue to be a significant issue with 312 breaches reported in 2014.   Overall, cybercriminals exposed more than 348 million identities in 2014. About 1.1 million identities were stolen per data breach in 2014.

Cyber criminals aren’t just targeting big businesses and government agencies. In 2011, more than 50 percent of the attacks targeted organizations with fewer than 2,500 employees, and almost 18 percent targeted companies with fewer than 250 employees. And the threat isn’t limited to organizations. According to Symantec, social networks were identified as the “new frontier” for cyber scammers as they moved away from spam, which decreased by 20 percent in 2011.   In 2014, Symantec observed that 70 percent of social media scams were manually shared, as people were more likely to click on links shared by friends and family members.

Consumers can decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of a cybercriminal by adopting the following “best practices” and making sure that:

  • Your antivirus software is updated
  • Your web browser software is updated
  • Your operating system is updated
  • Your firewall is activated
  • Remote access is deactivated
  • Use strong passwords or passphrases. Do not use words found in a dictionary; use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Beware that downloading “free,” “cracked” or “pirated” software can simultaneously download malware that steals your personal information or tricks you into disclosing it.
  • Beware of the downloading files from websites; malware can come from reputable websites as well as less reputable websites.
  • Never open, view, save or execute any e-mail attachment unless you were expecting the attachment and you trust the sender. Be cautious even when dealing with trusted sources.
  • Be careful when clicking on hyperlinks in e-mails and social media webpages, even when the hyperlink comes from a trusted source. Log on to the entity’s official website, instead of “linking” to it via an e-mail or social networking webpage.
  • Don’t blindly click on shortened hyperlinks without expanding them first and verifying the trustworthiness of their ultimate destination.
  • Be careful when clicking on hyperlinks produced by search engines, especially links related to hot topics “trending” in the media. Cybercriminals create malicious webpages to target people searching hot topics.
  • Be suspicious of warnings that pop-up asking you to install media players, document viewers or security updates. You should only download software directly from the vendor’s website.
  • If you use a wireless router, configure it for strong authentication and always require a strong password for access to it.
  • Do not transmit your personal or financial information over the Internet unless you first confirm the identity of the recipient and you trust that person with your information.
  • Review the settings and preferences of applications loaded on your mobile device and make sure your information and privacy are protected. Pay particular attention to settings that permit access to your device’s data and location information.   Guide to protecting your smartphone.

You can find more information about cybercrime by visiting these websites:

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Or you can contact our office by addressing your inquiry to:

Department of the Prosecuting Attorney
Attn: White Collar Crime Unit
1060 Richards Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813