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FBI: Mobile devices deserve extra attention as cyber threats increase

Posted October 23, 2015

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— Most people are at least nominally concerned about the security of their computers, but the FBI says many should take a second look at their cellphones, devices that are becoming more frequent targets of cyber criminals.

Cellphones are easier to hack, and simple passwords and frequently used Wi-Fi could be opening the door, experts say.

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the FBI is spreading the word about security issues and connectivity risks for mobile devices.

"You may set up certain precautions in your home network, but when you go into somebody else's network, you don't know what kind of security precautions are in place there," FBI supervisory special agent Jessica Nye said. "Somebody else could be monitoring your activity when you are sitting right next to them."

The FBI says free Wi-Fi isn't a complete no-no, but Nye said people should be careful about the types of websites they check while using a free network. Never check a bank account or other websites that may include personal data.

Passwords are also something to consider, both on devices and on wireless routers.

"Your personal computer and all of the information that you may have in your computer could also be susceptible if you have poor security practices around some of these other devices," Nye said.

The FBI says people should ask two questions when thinking about how to secure their personal information.

"Have you gone through certain steps to actually change the default password associated with those devices? Are you relying on just what the manufacturer gave to them?" Nye said.

After changing all of the default passwords, make sure to come up with new ones that are complex.

Passwords should include letters of different cases, numbers and special characters.

The FBI says no password should be used more than once.

"If it is compromised in one place, then a cyber actor could utilize those passwords to see if they can access any other outlets," Nye said.

Anyone who feels that their information has been compromised should file a complaint with their local law enforcement office or the FBI.

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