#nationalcybersecuritymonth | BBB on Homes: Be aware of current cybersecurity risks


With October comes Halloween, but it is also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas continues to uncover the latest scary cyber security risks and ways to avoid them.

Watch out for these dangers lurking in the corners of our everyday digital lives:

Scammers can get to you right through that small screen in your hand — your smartphone. Consumers tend to be less wary in social media channels, and scammers are taking shocking advantage of that fact.

BBB’s Scam Tracker data shows that of consumers who said they were exposed to a scam on social media, a whopping 91% engaged with the scammer and 53% of them lost money.

Security analysts reported this month that over half of all social media logins are fraudulent, and one-fourth of new account applications are fake.


Hacked “smart” devices could haunt your house. The “Internet of Things” is on the rise. A wide array of inventive devices can now interconnect your home and your world: your car, your fridge, your baby monitor, your doorbell, your air conditioner — even your window blinds.

In exchange for convenience, consumers are putting trust in all kinds of online smart devices, opening up new threats to security and privacy and creating points of entry for sinister hackers to exploit. Did you hear a strange voice in your house? It could be the voice of a hacker who has taken over one of your internet-connected devices.

Phishers in disguise are on the prowl. Sneaky phishers can gather information about you and make convincing fake email accounts to pose as your boss, lawyer, Realtor, or someone else you trust.

Typically, they target people and organizations that may be involved in high-dollar transactions, so the risk of major monetary loss is high, too.

It’s more important than ever to double-check the identity of your online contact before you transmit payments or provide personal information.

Online purchase scams. Online shopping is always popular, as busy consumers take advantage of online sales and free shipping.

Although you can’t beat the convenience of getting what you need at the click of a button, all too often, consumers find what they ordered is not what they get. Worse, certain websites might be scams that take your money and don’t send a thing.


The BBB also offers these tips:

 Be careful shopping or browsing online. In social media, don’t be too quick to click on ads that offer improbably good deals.

Research companies with BBBHouston.org and other online sources before you buy. Never download or install files from unverified sources.

 Secure your smart devices and consider installing anti-malware on your smartphone. Configure and monitor app settings for privacy, encrypt your WiFi, name your router, and keep your software up to date.

Ask the manufacturer or seller about smart device set up and vulnerabilities.

 Use multi-factor authentication to secure your logins — everywhere. However, using your private phone number for that purpose could expose you to some risks. Consider creating an Internet phone number for online authentication instead.

 Change passwords often and keep them long and strong. Passphrases are more complex and may be more secure.


The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.



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