OCTOBER 8, 2019 – October is not all skeletons and jack-o-lanterns, there are also scary things that live in cyberspace. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with this year’s theme, “Be Cyber Smart.”
The awareness month is a collaborative effort between the Department of Defense, along with the Department of Homeland Security and its public and private partners. It is up to the total force to stay vigilant, keep learning and be ready for any potential cyber threat.
The Air Force Office of Information Dominance and chief information officer worked to develop themes that align with the DoD weekly themes. These weekly themes are meant to assist with changing the culture of cybersecurity throughout the Air Force:
- Week 1: Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility
- Week 2: Defending the family – Cybersecurity practices at home
- Week 3: Privacy, PII and FOIA – Reducing mission cyber risks by protecting information
- Week 4: Phishing – Continuous training makes a difference
An already scary cyber world can be scarier when one common threat, identity theft, comes knocking, seeking a reward. However, like other threats, being cyber smart can help the Air Force family be prepared and resilient. There are eight common types of identity theft:
- Financial identity theft
- Driver’s license identity theft
- Criminal identity theft
- Social security identity theft
- Medical identity theft
- Insurance identity theft
- Child identity theft
- Synthetic identity theft
The most well-known is financial identity theft, classified in one of two ways: when a thief maxes out credit, steals the victim’s money or when thieves open new credit cards and loans in the victim’s name.
Two more types of identity theft are driver’s license and criminal identity theft. Driver’s license theft is when a thief poses as the person, possibly damaging the victim’s driving record. Criminal identity theft takes place when the victim’s identity is used with police, resulting in a criminal record being created in the victim’s name. When this occurs, the victim of criminal identity theft can have problems with law enforcement or be unable to gain employment.
Another form of identity theft involves social security numbers and benefits. Most government benefits require a social security number to obtain. Social security number thieves can falsify official documents when they have access to a victim’s social security number.
Medical identity theft can be used to commit fraud involving health insurance and medical coverage. Related to medical identity theft is insurance identity theft. Thieves leave the victim with the problems after they use the victim’s identity, including difficulties in settling payments, potentially higher insurance premiums and quite possibly trouble in acquiring medical coverage later on.
Even children fall victim to cyber threats and identity theft. A child’s information can be used to defraud the government, create documents, commit crimes and apply for loans. Additionally, when thieves can’t get a victim’s complete information, they can still use parts of an identification to create a synthetic identity.
Thieves can create scary problems for potential victims and leave them with problems. Knowing each common type is just the beginning of being cyber smart.
For tips, tricks and more information on identity theft, follow this year’s theme, #BeCyberSmart. For events happening at a specific location, contact the local information protection office. Visit https://www.safcioa6.af.mil/Organizations/CISO-Homepage/NCSAM-2019/ for more information.
Story by Tech. Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs