WALLINGFORD — Reaching out to those most often targeted, three Quinnipiac University computer information system students gave a crash course in how to avoid and recover from cyber fraud at the Wallingford Senior Center Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s so nice that these kids come to teach the old how to steer clear of fraud,” said Gustavo Trujillo, of Wallingford. “It’s beautiful that they can do that.”
Having received the same kinds of predatory emails the students spoke about, Trujillo said he learned “how to take care of things.”
The students walked senior citizens through common schemes such as phishing, social engineering and ransomware.
Many of the methods, such as phishing and social engineering, attempt to trick victims into divulging social security numbers and bank information through websites masquerading as legitimate companies. One woman mentioned that she receives calls from people claiming to be IRS agents.
“This is something we want to help you guys avoid at all costs,” said Quinnipiac student Austin Kuppek.
Using passwords with symbols instead of letters and not including public information, like a name or birth date, can frustrate hackers’ attempts to guess passwords. Steven Koch, the third student presenting, said he often will check suspicious web links through search engines. Verification services such as Norton Safe Web will also show if a website is legitimate.
Even the best practices cannot prevent the theft of information from companies storing it on their servers. Student Vincent Deriu cited the Equifax breach, which reportedly released the personal information of nearly half the American population, and Target’s loss of millions of people’s data, including credit card information.
“Even the biggest companies are vulnerable to data breaches,” he said.
For those who have already fallen prey to identity theft, Deriu recommended reporting the fraud to the police and the bank or company which issued any compromised cards, as well as filing a fraud victim statement with a credit bureau.
After they have all been alerted, he recommended creating an account with a credit monitoring service and updating antivirus programs.
Ramesh Subramanian, the students’ professor, said the young and elderly are particularly at risk of cyber fraud. The presentation raised awareness and allowed his students to practice teaching skills to others.