Online Safety/Cyber Security

Find out what you need to know about being safe online

Follow the links below for important information to protect yourself from cyber crime.

What is a cyber crime?
What does cyber security mean?
How will I know if I have been impacted by a cyber crime?
How to do I protect myself against cyber crimes?
What should I do if I am the victim of a cyber crime?

What is a cyber crime?

Cyber crime can be defined as any type of crime conducted using the internet, a computer or computer technology (such as a smartphone, tablet etc). Cyber crimes can be perpetrated against an individual, or a group of individuals all at the same time. Cyber crimes can be anything from cyberbullying, to identity theft, to fraud, and even terrorism.

While Santa Cruz as a city has minimal risk for being targeted by cyber criminals, you personally, have a much higher risk. Identity theft and other internet crimes are on the rise for individuals. It is important to know your risk and what to do if you think you have been affected.

What does cyber security mean?

Cyber security means taking steps to ensure that you are safe when conducting yourself online. These steps can include physical protections such as having anti-virus software or anti-spyware/malware programs installed on your computer but also includes education about your vulnerability online and the risks you face based on the websites you visit .

How will I know if I have been impacted by a cyber crime?

You may not know right away if you have been affected by a cyber crime. Unlike coming home to find your things stolen, a cyber crime can be committed without you ever knowing, or knowing much later when you find unauthorized charges to your credit card or loans taken out in your name. Because of this it is important to always be smart about how and where you share your information and the method you use to connect to the internet so you can limit your risk. For other cyber crimes such as cyber bullying the impacts are going to be much more obvious

How to do I protect myself against cyber crimes?

There are many ways to protect yourself from cyber crimes but the first step is education(congratulations, you’re already doing that!). Here are some things to keep in mind when you are online — courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop. Think. Connect Campaign.

  • Set strong passwords, change them regularly, and don’t share them with anyone.
  • Keep your operating system, internet browsers, and other critical software optimized by installing updates when they are available. 
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your friends, family, colleagues and community about Internet safety, especially if you share your computer access with others.
  • Use privacy settings and limit the amount of personal information you post online.
  • Be cautious about offers online — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Part of educating yourself is knowing where to get reputable information about cyber crimes.

Reputable information means that which is published by and coming from organizations and agencies who specialize in cyber security and/or work to prevent cyber crimes such as the FBI, the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security.

We’ve compiled a list of resources (see the links below) that can help you understand your risk and protect yourself.

Protecting your computer against cyber threats - FBI.gov
Protecting yourself against internet fraud - FBI.gov
How to protect your kids online - OnGuardOnline.gov
Current scams to look out for - OnGuardOnline.gov
Internet Crime Complaint Center - IC3.gov


What should I do if I am the victim of a cyber crime?

  • Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
  • Run a scan to make sure your system is not infected or acting suspiciously.
  • If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.
  • Notify the proper authorities.
  • File a report with the local police so there is an official record of the incident.
  • Report online crime or fraud to your local United States Secret Service (USSS) Electronic Crimes Task Force or Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Report identity theft and consumer fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.

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