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Hawaii residents must stay vigilant against Cyber Fraud

By Matthew Freeman on May 28, 2020 1:57:35 PM

Tags: Security, Residential/Consumer, How-To Guides, Data Protection,

You may have seen excerpts from a report recently released by a Canadian research firm stating that the number of cybercrime victims in Hawaii increased an alarming 65 percent from 2012 to 2017. Only California was higher with a 70 percent increase. These reports were based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Let’s put the increase into perspective. As more Hawaii residents utilize technology including regular use of smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the number of victims is likely to increase as the pool gets larger. As the availability of higher speed internet and other advanced services expands throughout our state, a growing number of local residents have more on-demand access to the rest of the world than ever before. On top of this, growth in e-commerce and other online services provide more opportunities for criminals. Cybercrime is a booming business worldwide, likely to exceed $1 trillion in losses this year.

The same FBI data shows that Hawaii is among the lowest in monetary losses. In fact, among the handful of states that experienced a decrease, Hawai‘i had the largest decrease in monetary loss from cybercrime per victim. In terms of protecting ourselves and limiting the damage from cybercrime, our state seems to be doing fairly well compared to the rest of the nation.

As a local information security professional, I would like to see Hawaii with the lowest number of cybercrime victims and the lowest amount of monetary loss in the world. It will take ongoing effort and vigilance, but that’s a small price to pay for access to the variety and convenience of online services that we enjoy. It’s important to remember that cybercrime tactics will continue to evolve, requiring constant vigilance. Start 2019 by following these tips so our state will have the least cybercrime victims this year and going forward.

  • Never use public Wi-Fi for banking and shopping.
  • Use a password phrase of 15 characters or longer.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for every website or application that allows it.
  • Do not re-use your passwords between accounts and websites.
  • Be sure to only use secure sites when submitting sensitive data online (look for the padlock in the address bar)
  • Be smart about what you see and read online. Nothing is free and news is sometimes fake.
  • Educate your keiki and kupuna about the importance of online privacy as they are often the most victimized demographic.
  • Every business with an online presence should have a cybersecurity program in place and make cybersecurity education and best practices part of their culture. If you need assistance, reach out to a trusted technology expert.

As director of information security at Hawaiian Telcom, Matt Freeman leads the company’s security training program and provides training services for customers statewide. Reach him at

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