Cybersecurity in American Samoa

The first TALA-TEK on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in American Samoa featured speakers were Ms. Grace Tulafono-Asi, IT Manager, Department of Treasury; Mr. Randall Fitisone, Emergency Communications Coordinator, Department of Homeland Security; and Mr. Charles “Chuck” Lerch, CEO HiTech Hui in Honolulu, HI.

TALA-TEK ON Cybersecurity and Data Protection AGENDA

Cybercrimes are the fastest growing crimes in the US, and they are continuing to increase in size, sophistication, and costs.  Everything from stolen money, theft of personal and financial data, loss of productivity and the damage and destruction of critical corporate or individual data is categorized as cybercrime.  The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has triggered the biggest cybersecurity concerns and threats in over a period of months, a 600% increase in a matter of months (Steven Inch of HP).  As billions of users flock to the internet daily as the “new norm”, we are also witnessing an evolution in cybercrimes with population increase.  Cybercrimes and threats such as phishing email schemes to malicious actors posting as CDC, healthcare organization, insurance, or WHO representatives have been aggressive, and the biggest reason for the increase in attacks is because of the number of people working from home or remotely. 

American Samoa remains the only coronavirus-free place in the US.  We do owe the enjoyment of our coronavirus-free status to appropriate protection and security measure implemented to protect our physical borders. We should do the same with cybersecurity and not let our guard down by taking the certain steps to help protect American Samoa against cybercrimes. 

  • Tighten your personal securities with Strong passwords and Two-factor authentication

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to create passwords with various characters, numbers, and letters.  Do not use common information that are easily found such as names of children, pets, use of birthdates.  Be sure to change this frequently.  Where possible, use two-factor authentication.  This provides an extra layer of security when you log into your online accounts.

  • Keep your software and operating systems updated

When there are security updates to be downloaded and installed, install and update! In addition, install virus protection programs to scan your computer for viruses and malware.

  • If it looks suspicious, do not click on it.

If it is too good to be true, it probably is.  In a typical phishing scheme, people receive an email purportedly from their email service provider or a financial service provider, such as a bank or credit card company, or even a government agency telling them that there is a problem with his or her account.  Many people click on the first sight of these emails.  These are attempts for you to give up your personal information such as name, address, date of birth, email username and password, bank account number, PIN number or Social Security number.

Here are some tips to protect yourself:   

  • No legitimate company will ever send you an unsolicited email asking for your personal information.
  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct web address yourself.
  • Contact your email service provider or financial service provider directly using the customer service number on your account statement or the number given on the provider’s website to verify that the information in the original email was, or was not, legitimate.
  • Do not give sensitive information in response to an unsolicited request for it.
  • Immediately delete all suspicious emails, and never open email attachments or click on links from unknown sources.
  • Use antivirus and antispyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly.
  • Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.

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