MARTINEZ, Ga. (WJBF) – The city of Augusta still recovering from a recent cyber-attack. But there are ways you can protect yourself and your devices from a similar attack.

Local IT specialists say cybercrime is on the rise, making it increasingly difficult to defend your personal data and resources. Still, there are several things you can do to protect yourself. 

It often starts as an email where the recipient is told their subscription is about to end. 

Once you make contact, you may be walked through a process that allows the sender remote access to your devices.

“And then once they remote in, they kind of have free reign into their systems. And that’s where the problems come in,” said Charles Kelly, president of Augusta Computer Exchange.

Kelly tells us that many of his customers need help with ransomware– a malicious software that prevents people from accessing their computer’s information and demands a ransom to get that access back. 

He’s seen customers lose up to $80,000.

“These customers are in tears by the time they reach us,” said Kelly.

Nearly one in three homes are affected by cyber crime- the FBI calling it a ‘complex, global concern’.

“I had a lady that had obviously worked her entire life,” said Kelly. “It was her husband’s death benefit that was stolen from her. And she had just bought a car and she was trying to decide if she should pay the interest or pay the car off. Now the money’s gone…and she still owes $22,000.”

Kelly tells us there are many ways to protect your personal information. 

“Having current hardware,” said Kelly. “Hardware that isn’t old and end of life. Very old operating systems like Windows 7- those can be hacked. They can just be gotten into without any help.”

He also says an antivirus program can be useful.

“But you have to understand…an antivirus program will not stop these sort of ‘mental hacks’,” said Kelly. “And that’s what it is- it’s a combination of the telephone and the computer being [used] as tools with a person using those as tools to rip off the client.”

“It boils down to not letting someone remote into your computer unless you are 100 percent sure who they are,” said Kelly. 

For more information on how to safeguard your personal devices and avoid a hack, visit the sites listed below.

Augusta Computer Exchange

FBI Cyber Crime Info

CISA Cybercrime Fast Facts