Some criminals are smarter than others.
Take, for example, a criminal who suspected his phone line was being tapped, so he changed his number. He gave out his new number backwards, but he told the callers on his tapped line he was going to give the number backwards.
Needless to say, the FBI figured out the new number.
Others criminals, however, get away with millions of dollars stolen from average citizens.
Retired FBI agent Jeff Lanza spoke at McPherson College Friday to offer help in outsmarting the wide spectrum of criminals out there. In “Hooldums to Hackers: How Criminals Commit Fraud and What You Can Do to Stop Them,” he spoke of four tips for financial and identification protection.
The first tip is to deter. Lanza said criminals usually prey on victims who allow the easiest access to their information.
“The more layers you have, the better off you are,” he said.
He suggested using two separate computers — one exclusively for banking. This is because many viruses are designed to sit quietly on a computer until an online bank account is accessed, then record the keystrokes and use it for hacking.
The most common passwords are a sequence of numbers, such as “123456,” or variations of “password.” Lanza suggests using as many characters as possible (up to nine), including upper and lower case and symbols.
A six-character lower case only password, for example, would only take 10 minutes to hack due to the number of possible outcomes. A nine-character password with both cases and symbols, however, would take 44,530 years to try all possible outcomes.
To remember this potentially difficult password, Lanza suggested using only two — one for all social networks and one for other uses.
The second tip is to watch out for phishing. Phishing is the attempt to obtain confidential information from Internet users.
Lanza said the most typical websites for this practice is Craigslist, eBay, and dating websites. These fool people because they play with their emotions, such as asking for money for a dying relative before they can exchange business or meet each other.
The third tip is to restrict information. Lanza said it is important to know who is asking for the information and why they want it. Many emails or websites can look official, but are actually malicious hackers in disguise.
He used one example of a criminal that didn’t take precautions. He was investigating the home of a gambling bookie when calls came in. Lanza told him his real name and that he was an FBI agent, but the caller booked with him anyway.
When using social networking, Lanza suggested being cautious of messages and requests from unknown persons.
Page 2 of 2 - The fourth and final tip was to protect portable devices. Lanza suggested to use a password on cell phones and use the feature that erases the information if an incorrect password is tried too many times.
Lanza said the FBI is constantly at war with hackers, and must constantly be reactive instead of proactive. But individuals can do many things to protect themselves as investigators fight the continuous battle.
“I think there is a hope, and a lot of it has to do with prevention,” he said. “If we protect our personal information, a lot of us can be protected.”
Lanza has more than 20 years of investigation experience of corruption, fraud, organized crime, cyber crime, human trafficking and terrorism. Now the Kansas City native helps prevent it through education through various avenues.
Lanza’s visit was part of the eighth annual Harter Lecture in Business, made possible by McPherson College alumni Jack and Elanor Harter.
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel