Department of Human Services | Christie Administration teaches seniors about Cybersecurity
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Homeland Security and Human Services leaders host presentation to share tips and advice

HAMILTON – Two Christie Administration officials today visited 200 senior citizens here 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 the proactive, precautionary information during an hour-long session at the Bernice Muha Senior Center.

“Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Half of cybercrimes and fraud targets people over 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 DHS. “They 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 efforts by NJOHSP’s The New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC), the state's one stop shop for cybersecurity information sharing and threat analysis and information about the risks of theft, fraud and abuse in an increasingly virtual world. It can be reached at www.cyber.nj.gov.

Rodriquez cautioned the attendees not to use the same passwords for multiple websites or accounts, not to post too much personal information on Facebook, and, when shopping online, make sure the website has an “s” at the end or its url  (such as https), which indicates it’s a secure website.

It is especially important when disposing of a computer to delete your history and take it to technology experts to wipe out the hard drive, he said.

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 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, trip or to avert a lawsuit, as well as calls from the IRS, people claiming they work at your bank, are usually scams, he said.

If you get a cellphone call with a number you don’t recognize, either don’t answer it or answer it, get as much information as you can from the caller, and report it to police, Rodriguez said.

 “To quote my parents, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’” Rodriguez said. “Don’t be afraid to be embarrassed; scams can happen to everyone.”

Rodriguez engaged in a question-and-answer period in which participants told of suspicious phone calls claiming that they’re loved ones are in jail and need to be bailed out; grandchildren are stranded, and various other ruses.

“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

njhomelandsecurity.gov

 
 
 
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