October 2, 2013

Cyber safety section on Ready Illinois website offers online safety information
for home, businesses and children

SPRINGFIELD –   Whether through a computer at home, school or work, or with a mobile device, millions of Americans access the Internet each day.  The Internet provides almost limitless opportunities while creating risks that can range from mere inconveniences to serious threats such as identity theft and child safety.
Throughout October, which is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will highlight cyber safety to help people understand online risks and what they can do to prevent problems. 
“The Internet is part of our everyday life,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “With the click of a mouse, we can make purchases, communicate with friends and family around the world and perform a myriad of business functions.  We want people to understand how to protect their computer, personal information, business operations and, most importantly, their children from cyber risks.”
Monken said the Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov) includes a cyber safety section that provides information and links to dozens of resources for the safe use of computers and the Internet at home and businesses, as well as guidance for parents and children about online safety. 
The site also offers information technology (IT) “Best Practices,” including an IT policy template, sample policies and guidance on how to avoid risks associated with the storage of information on photocopiers, fax machines and printers.
Online shopping is just one of the many uses of the Internet that is rapidly growing in popularity.  U.S. online retail sales are estimated to top $252 billion in 2013.  While shopping on the Internet is convenient, it’s important to ensure your computer has the latest security software, web browsers and operating system to provide the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
Other tips for protecting yourself while shopping online include:
  • Check out sellers in advance to ensure they are reputable.  Search for online reviews of the merchant and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case you have a problem with your transaction or billing.
  • Make sure the site is legitimate before you enter your personal and financial information.  Look for a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https.  This indicates the purchase is encrypted or secured.
  • Use safe payment options.  Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. 
  • Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale and copies of any email exchange with the seller.
  • Turn your computer off when you’re finished shopping or when it’s not in use.  Leaving your computer on gives scammers 24/7 access to your computer to install malware and commit cyber crimes.
For more online safety tips, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.  In addition to cyber safety information, the website is a one-stop location for information about disaster preparedness, what to do during a disaster and steps for recovery after a disaster.