This Is The Official Archives Page for OQP Solutions Articles and Information
A cyber-attack is any action taken by a cyber-criminal in an attempt to illegally gain control of a computer, device, network, or system with malicious intent. Cyber criminals may damage, destroy, steal, encrypt, expose, or leak data as well as cause harm to a system.
Cyber-attacks are on the rise, with cyber-criminal trends and techniques becoming increasingly sophisticated and creative. However, basic cybersecurity tools and practices, like patching, strong passwords, and multi-factor authentication (MFA), can prevent 80 to 90% of cyber-attacks.
Black Men In America.com is proud to partner with OQP Solutions to help us in our mission to help you protect yourself against cyber thieves and criminals. Please share this information as a way of supporting Dontae Tyler and OQP Solutions.
Gary A. Johnson – Publisher, Black Men In America.com
July 28, 2022
I am certain that most of our readers and listeners have small children, grandchildren, little nieces, nephews, or cousins that they absolutely adore. And because you adore the young people in your life, you probably shower them with love and spoil them with gifts. Increasingly, those gifts are smart devices to help educate or provide a fun, interactive experience for the child.
When you purchase these Internet-enabled devices, I’m sure you never think to yourself, “How can this technology be maliciously used against me or my loved one?” In the past, this question would have seemed very odd; however, with the explosion of Internet-enabled devices from tablets, video games, and even doll babies this question should be asked more. Back in 2015 it was revealed that the data of over 6.4 million children was hacked from their use of the Vtech devices, a global leader of educational toys. (V-Tech Hack Video) In another instance shown on the TV show “Good Morning America,” attackers were able to exploit a baby monitor by hacking the app-controlled device (Baby monitor hack). My hope in sharing these stories and information with you is not to make you fearful or deter you from having Internet-enabled devices in your home. However, I do want to help educate you on some cyber hygiene tips that will drastically reduce the chances of a successful cyber-attack.
At any point prior to gifting children with Internet-enabled devices did you stop to consider whether they had the necessary Cyber Hygiene training or if the device could enable the parental controls?
Most adults have never heard the expression Cyber Hygiene. And a very small number know how to enable or have enabled parental controls. Lacking proper Cyber Hygiene drastically increases a child’s (or an adult for that matter) chances of invasion of privacy, deliberately or inadvertently visiting inappropriate websites, explicit language, cyber-bullying, and or bribery.
The definition of Cyber Hygiene is as follows “the proactive countermeasures one takes to reduce its chances of a successful cyber-attack.” Below, I’ve shared a few helpful tips adults can put in place to help build hygienic practices in our ever-evolving cyber world.
Cyber Hygiene Tips for Parents:
- Carefully read the following terms and conditions and ask the following questions:
- What data do you consent to share with this app? (Location, microphone, photos, etc.)
- How is this information collected?
- Why do they need to collect this data?
- How will this data be used?
- Can I opt out and still use data?
If you are uncomfortable with the information being shared or unhappy with the policy terms, consider not using the service completely or researching a similar product that handles and protects your data more securely. Check out this tool that tracks your Google activity (Google My Activity).
- Reduce the amount of information you share online.
You may have never thought that an innocent picture of your 8-year-old daughter in her bathing suit at the pool that received over 500 likes is harmless until you check the “likes” (creepy I know). I also caution you about the type of personal sensitive information you share about your children like your child’s full name, DOB, phone number, and address. These can easily be compiled to build a fake identity of your child and now they own a Porsche 911.
- Have the conversation with your children.
Traditionally Cyber Security has not been taught early on or built into smart devices for several reasons. However, now is the time to begin having those conversations with our small, loved ones about their technology use. Below are a few analogies we use during our Cyber Hygiene for Parents Workshop that build good Cyber Hygiene habits for small children.
- “Your data (information) online is like your body, we can’t/don’t want to share with everyone” *help them understand what information is sensitive (DOB, Address)
- “You see those locks on the front door, well those locks are similar to the locks I placed on your tablet to keep unwanted people away”
- I encourage parents to involve their children in the process of protecting them online so they can not only gain a better understanding of how to protect themselves but also recognize indicators of compromise and what to do next.
- Create a fake account and follow your kids.
- This allows you to safely monitor account activity from a reasonable distance. You can view their friend lists, posts, and likes.
- However, I caution you that when you do see things that you don’t approve of to not blow your cover but share with them the dangers of failing to protect themselves online. Show them statistics and hacking videos of how easy it is to exploit them using their online profile.
- Adjust privacy settings
- If you can opt out of your data being shared, opt-out
- Ask the app not to track you if you are not using the app
- Don’t allow the app to track your location
- Limit the number of apps that have access to your microphone, camera, and pictures
- Don’t allow your data to be shared with 3rd parties
To learn more cyber hygiene tips for parents to reduce the chances of a successful cyber-attack against their children please visit our website. We offer bi-weekly Cyber Hygiene workshops for parents where we conduct live demonstrations of how to reduce your chances of a successful attack.
Ever heard the term “Cyber Hygiene?” Chances are probably not. It’s a fairly new term that I am coining myself as one of the pioneers. Cyber Hygiene is the proactive daily countermeasures a user or organization takes to reduce risk to acceptable levels while using the internet. In laymen terms, it means reducing the chances of you getting “hacked” or when you do get hacked you can do” damage control.”
My name is Dontae Tyler, I am a Cyber Security professional from Prince George’s County Maryland (Washington, DC native). I have been in the “Tech Space” for 9 years and founded OQP (Only Quality People) Solutions back in 2018 after working as a government contractor for a few years. OQPS’s primary mission is to educate users and organizations on how to reduce risk to acceptable levels. We provide several services that help us achieve this goal. Our focus areas within cyber security are Security Awareness and Education (SAT), Data Privacy, and Governance Risk & Compliance (GRC). Enough about us, let me explain why I am writing this column.
The main objective is to educate people, especially people of color, on the threats and vulnerabilities that exist online and provide tips on how to keep them safe. I would ask that if you are reading this column entry, would you be so kind to go and complete this brief survey (insert survey) to help us gather data.
About a month ago, I was the featured speaker on Black Men in America’s “Speak The Truth,” show highlighting the threats and vulnerabilities that exist within the senior citizen community (insert link to video). I thought it would be a great starting point for introducing Cyber Hygiene to the world.
Did you know that 39.5 million people in the United States are over the age of 65 and out of that 80% are women that live alone (The Hill)? This is highly due to women having longer life expectancy than men.
Living alone as a senior citizen is not only dangerous for their physical safety but also increases their risk of a cyber-attack. This is largely due to seniors not being “tech-savvy.” “Boomers” are what we call them, who did not grow up in the technology era. In fact, a vast majority of them did not believe in the “World Wide Web” when it first came about. Boy, were they wrong. LOL!
I would also say the Boomers control a bulk of the money markets, investment firms, real estate, and agriculture. This makes them the ideal target for attackers. Senior citizens are scammed for 3 billion dollars each year. Cyber-criminals who targeted elderly people stole an average of about $34,200 per senior citizen (Consumer Affairs).
Cyber Security Threats & Countermeasures
Some senior citizens suffered devastating effects, ranging from loss of all their life savings, feeling of shame for being a victim, and or exacerbated illnesses, including premature death. This is largely in part because seniors lack adequate Cyber Security Training and Education. Children purchase their parents’ smart devices and fancy tech gadgets to keep them safe, communicate and provide convenience.
How many purchasers take the time to show their parents how to use these smart devices safely? I’m sure that number is probably lower than most expect due to a good part of society doesn’t receive Cyber Security Training. SAT is often overlooked, which always amazes me because the user is an integral piece of every system. The user provides the data, and they interact with the systems the most. In fact, a large part of seniors have been forced to get smartphones to communicate, apply for benefits, or conduct business online; especially after COVID.
Common Threats and Attacks Targeting Seniors:
- Susceptible to psychological attacks/scams because a lot of elderly avoid using smart devices.
- Criminals can prey on a senior’s loneliness, they use dating and romance scams
- Threat actors attempt to sell ‘medications’ or invite users to donate to false charities.
- Attackers create fake websites filled with hidden charges or non-existing products that specifically target senior citizens.
- Identity Theft
- Phone Scams (The bank, IRS, or SSA will not call you)
- Threat actors will target seniors by impersonation
Countermeasures and In-depth Defense Techniques include:
- Like anything else It begins at home, families must check on their loved ones to ensure they are aware of potential scams and attacks!
- How to spot red flags and what to do in the event of an attack
- Reporting the incident or not exiting out of a program before they get help.
- Always look for a lock symbol next to or near the URL.
- Keep all apps up to date with the latest software version
- Don’t open random email attachments from unknown senders
- If it doesn’t seem right, the exit is to the right
- The bank will not call you and ask you to verify the information and neither will the IRS.
- Be aware that threat actors always use fear and a sense of urgency to target victims
- Don’t login banking apps on public Wi-Fi without a VPN
- Delete used applications
- Equally vital is informing seniors of the dangers of logging into banks and other private accounts through a link. The safe way, of course, is for seniors to directly enter their financial institutions’ respective websites to access information or complete financial transactions.
Call to Action
I hope I was able to educate and bring awareness to this overshadowed subject in Cyber Security. My hope is that after reading this column you will take the time to teach your elders about Cyber Hygiene or send it to an active senior online. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, you can reach us via our website. Thank you for reading, take care!
- Cyber-Attack- A direct or indirect unauthorized attempt to access your information systems (computers).
- Threat Actor- Unauthorized individual attempting to access your personal IT assets and or data.
- Vulnerability- Known and unknown system or network weaknesses.
- Risk- The likelihood of an adverse event occurring.
- Phishing Attack- email technique to steal your data or spy on you.
- 2FA (Two Factor Authentication)- Sends unique code that must be entered to grant access to system.
- VPN (Virtual Private Network)- secures your connection from one point to another using encryption.
- Burner Card- A debit or credit card that you will only use for online transactions with a set limit.
- Malware- Malicious software code designed to cause damage to a system or network
- Ransomware- Malicious software designed to steal and encrypt your data
- Encryption- Scrambles your data so that it is unreadable and can only be unlocked with a special key
About Dontae Tyler
A self-taught college dropout, Dontae Tyler is a Senior IT professional with over 8 years of experience. Dontae’s focus is cyber security, particularly GRC, Data Privacy, and Security Awareness Training. Dontae holds several certifications including CISM, CDPSE, Security+, and CEH. Dontae founded OQPS in 2018 as a government contracting consulting agency that aims to bridge security gaps and align business goals and objectives with the IT Strategy.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable with the amount of personal information you share on the Internet? Do you feel like there’s nothing you can do to really protect your data online? There is something you can do. You can click here to purchase Dontae’s book, “Cyber Hygiene,“ and learn how to increase your Cyber IQ and reduce your risk of being a victim of a cyber attack.
You can also click here to stay up-to-date by reading the OQP Blog.