The month of October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. With more identities being stolen, and scamming emails and phone calls becoming what seems like an everyday occurrence, this campaign serves as a reminder to learn how to protect yourself from becoming the next victim.

As part of the month-long campaign, the City of Fontana social media channels will have a weekly quiz to test your cybersecurity knowledge along with safety tips. I encourage you to share these quizzes with your family and friends.

It should serve as no surprise that there are people wanting to gain access to your personal information in order to steal your identity and money.

Let me just start off by saying that if the IRS calls or emails you asking to wire over money or repay the agency with gift cards, this is a scam.

Scammers are using aggressive, manipulative, and sneaky tactics, but it’s up to you to be proactive in protecting your personal information.

This year’s message for Cybersecurity Awareness Month is Own IT, Secure IT, Protect IT.

All too often, I hear about someone falling prey to an email scam, also known as phishing. In fact, according to statistics available online, phishing accounts for 90 percent of data breaches. During this cyber-attack, a hacker may either be a stranger or even masquerade as someone you may know and reaches out to you in hopes that you will reveal personal information or download malware. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks daily to gain access to your email, bank, and other accounts.

Keep yourself protected by knowing the warning signs. A phishing email will possibly be from an unknown sender, has an emotional appeal, spelling and grammatical errors, includes a URL and solicits sensitive information. Do not download attachments if the email has any of the warning signs. If the email appears to be from someone you know, you can always call the individual to make sure they did, in fact, send you an email. If you believe it is a scam, delete the email right away.

By following the tips to Own IT, Secure IT, and Protect IT, you can decrease your risk of becoming the next cybersecurity (especially, phishing) victim. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

• Own IT: Be sure to update privacy settings on all your devices, and keep tabs on what your phone apps are doing with your information

• Secure IT: Create strong passphrases, turn on multi-factor identification, and use different passwords for all sites

• Protect IT: Update to the latest virus protection software and operating systems

Scammers commonly target the senior community and pose as their friends, family members, and healthcare providers to gain access to personal information. Please be careful and remember that the robocalls and other calls claiming to be the IRS, FBI, or any other government agency demanding payment are a scam. These agencies do not call to demand money.

You can fight back by reporting phishing attempts to ftc.gov/complaint. Remember, your personal information is important, so be sure to Own IT, Secure IT, and Protect IT.

For more tips and information, visit www.fontana.org/Cybersecurity. There are several icons to choose from on the website that provides you with resources on protecting yourself in the digital world.

Everyone is a potential target for a phishing scam, and that is why cybersecurity is everyone’s business. Let’s be vigilant as we navigate our business online and take the proper measures to stay safe.

(Acquanetta Warren is the mayor of Fontana.)

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