Homeland Security and Human Services leaders host presentation to share tips and advice
December 2, 2015
HAMILTON – Two Christie Administration officials visited 200 senior citizens yesterday to raise awareness of cybersecurity threats and educate them about ways to protect themselves against attacks and scams, especially during the holiday shopping season.
New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) Director Chris Rodriguez and Human Services Acting Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly presented proactive and precautionary information during an hour-long session at the Bernice Muha Senior Center.
"Half of cybercrimes and fraud target people over the age of 50,” NJOHSP Director Rodriguez told the seniors. “There are ways you can lower your risk and ensure you are protected.”
“Everyone should be aware of the hazards of using the Internet and their cell phones, and special precautions should be taken when going online and buying gifts,” Acting Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Connolly said, who noted that the Division on Aging Services is within the Department of Homeland Security. “There are great communication tools. They help me keep in touch with my parents in Florida. But we have to take precautions.”
The two state departments partnered for the educational session as part of the state-wide effort to promote awareness and information sharing through NJOHSP's Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC), the state's one-stop shop for cybersecurity information sharing, threat analysis, and information about the risks of theft, fraud, and abuse in an increasingly virtual world. The NJCCIC can be reached at www.cyber.nj.gov.
Rodriguez cautioned the attendees not to use the same password for multiple websites or accounts, not to post too much personal information on social media platforms and, when shopping or banking online, to make sure the websites has an "s" at the end of its url (such as https), which indicates it's a secure website.
He also said that when a computer is being disposed, it is especially important to delete your history and take it to technology experts to wipe out the hard drive.
The Director warned the seniors to be particularly cautious about their medical information, which contains a host of other personal information. Always ask your medical provider if their data is encrypted, he said.
Rodriguez told the participants that they should get as much information as they can and report any suspicious cyber activity or unsolicited telephone calls asking for personal information to the local police immediately “so that we can use your experience to educate others.”
Unsolicited calls asking for money in order to claim a prize, vacation, or to avert a lawsuit, as well as calls from the IRS, people claiming they work at your bank, are often scams, he said.
"If you get a cellphone call with a number you don’t recognize, either ignore the call or answer and get as much information as you can from the caller in order to report it to police," said Rodriguez. “To quote my parents, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to be embarrassed; scams can happen to everyone.”
Rodriguez engaged in a question-and-answer period where participants shared suspicious phone calls claiming that their loved ones are in jail and need to be bailed out, grandchildren are stranded, and various other ruses.
“Ask as many questions as you can. Constantly push people on the phone and their tales tend to unravel,” Rodriguez said. “You have to be strict with the information you give out.”
Suspicious activity should be reported to local law enforcement or directly to www.njhomelandsecurity.gov.
For more cybersecurity resources, information and alerts, please visit www.cyber.nj.gov.