Online criminals are getting smarter in stealing personal and financial information from ordinary consumers, according to Comcast Corp., a Philadelphia company that supplies high-speed internet services to Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township and Sanatoga. So Comcast wants consumers to be smarter about identify theft.
Automated software programs – known collectively as “bots”- are now being used by bad guys on the Web to attack personal computers and gather valuable information. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that up to 9 million U.S. residents annually become identity theft victims. “It’s important consumers learn how to protect themselves and their families from online scams,” Jay Opperman, Comcast senior director of security and privacy, said.
Users can unknowingly infect computers with bots by opening suspicious e-mails or e-mail attachments, downloading software from unfamiliar or falsified websites, or failing to protect their machines with anti-virus and security software, Opperman added. To maximize protection, he suggests:
- Keep computers protected by installing reputable anti-virus and security software.
- Ensure computers are set to automatically receive security updates.
- Avoid downloading software from unknown or unfamiliar websites.
- Don’t open suspicious e-mails or e-mail attachments.
- Avoid social networking scams that ask you to respond with personal information through e-mails.