MR. ROB SACHS
Coming up, identifying with the past and the future in Tacoma Park.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1
Steam punk really is imagining an alternate American reality.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
That and more heading your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
I'm Rebecca Sheir.
And I'm Rob Sachs.
And welcome back to "Metro Connection." As we continue our show on identity, let's now turn to the darker side. I'm talking about having your identity stolen. You've heard of the company Norton.
They sell that anti-virus software in the yellow box, right?
Right, right. And Norton is the consumer division of this larger company, Symantec. Anyway, Norton recently conducted a survey to find which American cities are most vulnerable to cybercrime. First place, Seattle, second place Boston and third place….
No, D.C. To find out more, I headed to Alexandria, Va. to visit Symantec's Security Operations Center.
Ooh. That sounds pretty hard core. So did you have to get like a retinal eye scan or something like that?
No, but I was walking around with some employees and they do have to scan their fingerprint just to walk through doors.
Also, they took me to this room full of giant screens and consoles and there are people at their keyboards typing away, basically trying to keep the cyber world safe. You've seen War Games, right? It's a lot like that. Just...
Did you have to play tic-tac-toe to save the world?
No. And Matthew Broderick wasn't there either.
But I did have a chance to speak with Adam Palmer. He's Norton lead cyber security advisor. And for starters, he explained exactly what cybercrime is.
MR. ADAM PALMER
Cybercrime could be everything from a bad guy stealing your bank account information from your smart phone when you're logged on from an unsecured connection in a coffee shop to the notorious phishing e-mail. And what we're actually seeing is that the phishing e-mails now are becoming socially engineered.
Socially engineered, what does that mean exactly?
The cyber criminals will try to get little bits of information they know about you and use that to gain your trust and steal your information, steal your identity. In fact, every three seconds an identity is stolen online.
Every three seconds?
Absolutely. Cyber criminals know that they can wipe your bank account out in a matter of seconds if they can get your bank password and that's really how quickly it can happen. And what we try to stress to people is that you can't self-police. If you're out on the internet without good security software, without following good basic safety practices, it's like handing a criminal the keys to your house and saying, come in and rob me.
So your company, Norton, recently conducted the survey of the riskiest cities in America when it comes to cybercrime and Washington, D.C. ranked third. Why do you think D.C. might rank so high?
Maybe for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is this place is a great city to live in and why I live here is that we use technology. In fact, nearly 25 percent of Washington D.C. residents log onto the internet more than five times a day. That's 40 percent higher than the national average. So people use technology here. They use it as part of their lives, but cyber criminals know that so they target people in D.C. It's like the old saying, the bank robber saying, why do you rob banks, that's because that's where the money is. Well, some of the reasons people use technology in D.C. is why cyber criminals target us. But the reasons we rank high on this survey aren't necessarily bad. It means that we use a lot of great technology, but it also makes us vulnerable.
So given all that, how can people, including Washingtonians, help protect themselves from cybercrime? Can you give some specific tips people might want to follow?
Sure. First, follow basic safety steps about using a secured Wi-Fi connection to check your bank account information, changing your passwords, checking the website domain names that you're going to. These are all basic steps. And using good security software because the attacks are becoming so complex that you as an individual cannot look at a website or be able to tell if something is legitimate or not without some type of software, some type of security service to help to you do that.
A lot of people, it seems, just avoid it all together. I mean, I've spoken with people who just will not shop online. They will not enter their information. They will not enter their credit card. What would you tell a person like that who's just totally gun shy?
Technology is a great thing, use it. Don't be afraid of it, just follow those good safety steps in using security software and you're going to be safe. We know that cyber criminals are becoming organized. They're sophisticated gangs. It's a myth that it's the teenager in the basement. These are really sophisticated attacks that are launched against people. And if you're in Washington, it's a great place to be, but be aware of the threats out there, have good security software and follow good safety steps.
Well, Adam Palmer, good rules to live by. Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me.
My pleasure. Thank you.
To check out Norton's survey of the top ten riskiest online cities, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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