Friday, October 28, 2016

8 Tips to Protect Your Identity

Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In 2015, there were 13.1 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S., according to Javelin Strategy and Research.

1. Don’t share your secrets.
Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.

2. Shred sensitive papers.
Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

3. Keep an eye out for missing mail.
Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

4. Use online banking to protect yourself.
Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.


5. Monitor your credit report.
Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at

6. Protect your computer.
Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.

7. Protect your mobile device.
Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.

8. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cyber Security Week 3: Your Phone

With your mobile device, you have access to your email, bank, social media, etc. And it's super convenient right?! Unfortunately, if you're not smart it could provide the same convenient access to criminals. So, how can you be smart about it? Well, here are a few tips.

1.      Use a pass-code to lock your smartphone and other devices. If your device gets lost or stolen, it will be harder for anyone to take your info.

2.      Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.

3.      Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software just like you do for your computer. Install mobile security software.

4.      Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”

5.      Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps. Often they hold security updates as well.

6.      Avoid storing personal information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.

7.      Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device. 

8.      Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.

9.      Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it. There is specialized software you can use or ask about the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software even allows you to wipe your device remotely if it missing or stolen.

10.  Mobile phishing happens. Avoid opening links or attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.

11.  Don't Always Use Public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.

12. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cyber Security Week 2: Randsomeware

Have you ever heard of Ransomware? It's a form of malware.  Cyber criminals use it to freeze your computer or phone, steal your info and demand a “ransom”.  They'll demand anywhere from a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars before releasing your devise.  And often, even if you pay (which we don't recommend), you don't get access back.
Ransomware can affect your personal computer, phone, a business network, or a whole server.

Tips for consumers:
  • Don’t click. Sometimes, just visiting a suspicious website can lead to a malware download. Be cautious when opening e-mails or attachments you don’t recognize. Even if the message comes from someone you know, their account could be compromised as well.
  • Always back up your files. If you have offline copies of your personal information, ransomware scams won't affect you as bad. If targeted, it will be easier to ignore threats posed by cyber criminals.
  • Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.  Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
  • Block popups. Turn on popup blockers to avert unwanted ads, popups or browser malware from appearing on your screen.

Tips for businesses:
  • Educate your employees.  If your employees understand how malware works, they can stop it from infiltrating the organization’s system.  Educate them about the warning signs, safe practices, and appropriate responses. A strong security program paired with employee education will help prevent these threats.
  • Manage the  accounts. Restrict users’ ability to install and run software applications on network devices. this will limit your networks exposure to malware.
  • Use a data backup and recovery plan for all critical information. Backups are essential for lessening the impact of potential malware threats. Store the data in a separate device or offline so you can access it in the event of a ransomware attack.
  • Make sure all business devices are up to date. Ensure antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans so that your operating systems operate efficiently.
  • Contact your local FBI field office immediately to report a ransomware event and request help. Visit to locate the office nearest you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cyber Security Week 1: Protecting Yourself Online

We all know the internet has many advantages. But,  it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to Symantec, 12 adults become a victim of cyber-crime every second. 

Users aren't always helpless though. Here are 7 ways you can step up your game against cyber criminals:

1.      Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.  Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

2.      Use strong passwords. What does that mean? It should be at least 8 characters long with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. For example, P@$sw0Rd7 instead of just password. Something more unique to yourself would be even better.

3.      Don't Fall for phishing scams.  This type of scam uses fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into sharing account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
If you get an email and aren't sure about it,  forward it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at You should also forward it to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.

4.      Protect your personal information. Hackers can use what you post on social media to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc.  Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

5.      Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.

6.      Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

7.      Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.