Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2017 Contents life
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Sunday, January 8, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Don’t be a target for cyber crime
PROTECT YOURSELF WHILE USING THE INTERNET
(Tips to ensure online security
from the US Department
Think before you post anything
online or share information in emails.
What you post online can be seen
by anyone. Sharing personal infor-
mation with others you do not know
personally is one of your biggest
Sharing sensitive information
such as your address, phone num-
ber, family members’ names, car
information, passwords, work his-
tory, credit status, birth date, school
names, passport information, driv-
er’s licence numbers, insurance pol-
icy numbers, loan numbers, credit/
debit card numbers, PIN numbers,
and bank account information is
risky and should be avoided.
Photos taken from smartphones
embed the GPS Coordinates in the
photo, which will allow others to
know the location of where the
picture was taken and may be used
to find you. Beware of this when
posting photos to online social me-
Remember that pictures posted
online may be copied, altered, and
shared with many people without
your knowledge or consent, unless
you use privacy settings to limit who
has access to the pictures.
Beware when opening emails
from unknown people or sources,
especially when they are unsolicited.
Clicking on links or downloading
attachments can infect your com-
puter with a virus or subject you to
fraud, malware, or a scam.
Some viruses harm your comput-
er, while others have the ability to
steal your personal information and
ultimately your identity.
Keep your computer’s operating
system, browsers, antivirus, and
other software up to date with the
latest or daily security patches.
Choose strong passwords using
ten characters and combinations of
upper case letters, lower case let-
ters, symbols, and numbers.
Do not include personal informa-
tion. Consider changing your pass-
word at least every 90 days when
information is sensitive.
Parents should consider applying
parental controls by their internet
service provider and/or blocking
software on family computers and
smartphones to limit the internet
to safe websites.
Contact your internet provider
if you have questions. Be sure to
research your options regarding
parental controls on products.
Be careful when using webcams.
They can be hijacked and turned on
remotely. This allows others to ille-
gally view and listen to individuals
without their knowledge. Consider
turning them off or disconnecting
them when not in use. Limit or
do not allow your children to use
webcams and talk to them about
Beware when connecting your lap-
top or mobile device to unsecured
networks. Computer hackers on the
same network can intercept your in-
ternet use and in some cases access
files on your computer.
Avoid purchasing goods and ser-
vices from websites that do not have
secure check-out using “HTTPS.” Pay
attention to the address line on the
checkout page which asks you to
enter your credit card information.
If the page does not have an “S”
following “HTTP” in the address line,
consider shopping somewhere else.
Be aware that some information
transmitted on HTTP pages is done
so using plain text which can be in-
tercepted by computer hackers.
Avoid typing sensitive information
on public computers, such as those
in a public library or an internet café.
Spyware may be installed on
these computers that record your
Also, you never know who may be
watching your activity. Never select
the feature that automatically signs
you on to email or check any box
to “Remember my Password” on
Citizens are exposing them-
selves to cyber crime through
the abundance of personal private
information they post to social
media sites online.
They are letting criminals know
where they are, when they’ll be there,
what they’ll be wearing, and who
they’ll be with. They tell criminals
where they live, who they live with,
and when they’ll be out.
“It doesn’t take any kind of criminal
expertise to find out harmful infor-
mation about anyone. Anybody with
a computer can get information which
can affect other people’s lives,” said
head of the T&T Police Service Cy-
ber Crime Unit, ASP Amos Sylvest-
er. Sylvester, who oversees the unit
which investigates cyber crimes in
the country, said citizens continue
to put themselves at risk.
A number of public officials claimed
to have been hacked this year includ-
ing Finance Minister Colm Imbert,
Planning Minister Camille Robinson,
and former housing minister Roodal
In an interview last week, ASP Syl-
vester said reports of hacking and oth-
er cyber crimes were not frequently
made by normal citizens.
“It’s mostly people who work in the
media and public officials,” said Syl-
vester. He could not say whether this
was due to a lack of reporting by oth-
er citizens. He said that the unit was
investigating four cases presently of
media professionals being stalked or
harassed through their online profiles.
“Like most people in the public do-
main, once they have your name there
are several ways they use information
to find out where people live, work,
where they go.
“People are more routine and ha-
bitual than expected. They frequent
places often and by taking pics at these
places, they now provide criminals or
people who want to harm them with
a place to wait or stalk or even attack
Sylvester said in some investiga-
tions, stalkers would send their tar-
gets photos they had taken of them
in different places.
They find their targets or victims
through phone GPS settings, apps,
and from people broadcasting where
they are through tools like Facebook’s
Check In option, which allows users
to tag their present location.
The tool then indicates to the user
which friends or acquaintances are
nearby, how far away they are, and
their exact location.
In February this year, Tracy Garcia
was being stalked by her boyfriend.
He showed up at her house and her
workplace, sometimes threatening
to harm her and himself in front of
co-workers and family.
Soon, he started showing up at
events she went to. Eventually, she
requested a restraining order.
“It always bothered me how he
would find me since I know none of
my friends would tell him.”
It was only after her cousin, a po-
lice officer, confronted the ex-boy-
friend that the family figured out the
information was coming directly from
“I remember looking back at my
profile and feeling really frightened.
I had posted tickets for the fete I was
planning to go to. I noticed things
like the street sign in the picture of
me dropping my son to school. I used
Facebook check-ins and tagged my
location on Instagram.
“I had also saved my home as a lo-
cation on Google Maps so anybody
looking at the map would see Tracy’s
House. I felt really stupid and really
afraid,” Tracy said in an interview
Boyfriends, girlfriends do
most of the harassment online
ASP Sylvester said most of the
harassment online comes from a
boyfriend or girlfriend. Many times,
he said, it is through the use of fake
“The technology is making it easier
for a select few who have mastered
getting the information from people,
it’s mainly through social engineer-
ing.” He said in these circumstances, it
is a challenge for his unit to get infor-
mation from the US to use as evidence
in cases of cyber crimes.
“It’s a fairly lengthy process. We
go through the MLAT (mutual legal
assistance treaty) process which can
take months and starts with the unit
making the request through the com-
missioner of police, which then goes
to the Attorney General’s office and
to the Department of Justice in the
United States,” Sylvester said.
He said the offence looked at by lo-
cal police needed to mirror an offence
in the US.
“The exact offence we are looking at
must be duplicated in the US and if we
alone have the offence here, they will
not honour it. They would engage the
legal process on their end to get infor-
mation from social media provider.”
While citizens have made reports,
Sylvester said no government depart-
ment or state enterprise had reported
being hacked in 2016.
“It’s more of a personal level and
people on their Facebook, but peo-
ple generally but under question-
able circumstances. In most cases
someone would post something, a
public complaint will be made and
the holder of the account will say it
has been hacked.
'Remember that pictures
posted online may be
copied, altered, and
shared with many people
without your knowledge
or consent, unless you
use privacy settings to
limit who has access to
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