Lt. Britt Dove, a SLED officer who works in the division’s Computer Crimes Center, spoke recently to the Optimist Club of St. Andrews-Irmo.

Dove urged the gathering to be cautious and even a little suspicious, during online activities. The most prominent of Dove’s concerns is e-mail activities. It is far too easy for criminals to disguise their email approaches as legitimate inquiries/surveys. An example would be a communication from a bank, using an official-looking bank logo, asking for account verification. Those entities never ask personal identification questions via email. Those emails are better deleted without ever opening them.

A more insidious area is personal data assistants, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. In using those devices to manage households, activities such as automatically turning on lights to appear to be at home or even doing online credit card transactions can now be intercepted and used for criminal purposes. Another area of vulnerability is remote controlling of thermostats. Data can be collected from such activity and can even signal burglars of times when the home is unoccupied. So what may seem like the evolved way of managing a home can actually be very useful to criminals.

Gaming consoles that are in millions of households in the U.S. can often be another pathway to personal information, particularly if subscriptions are involved. Those requirements can beget unwanted access to personal information, including methods of payment and credit card account numbers.

“If you don’t need to connect a device to the internet, don’t,” Dove said. “If a device is not connected, it isn’t as big a cybersecurity risk.”

Pictured are Optimist President Jay Down, Lt. Britt Dove, and speaker host John Mitchell, who presented the speaker with a copy of the Optimist Creed.

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