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Internet Security Topics

Cyber Security

As we become more dependent on computers and mobile devices in our everyday life, it is more important than ever to make sure we are protecting ourselves from cyber criminals. These criminals don’t discriminate; going after consumers and business alike. There are several steps you can take to protect and maintain your computer system.

Be careful how and where you connect to the internet.

You should access online banking or other sites that involve personal information using your own laptop or mobile device through a known, trusted and secure network. Public computers such as hotels or libraries and free Wi-Fi networks are not necessarily secure.

Protect your computer.

Install software that protects against malware or other malicious software, which can access your computer system without your consent and steal passwords or account numbers.

Understand Internet Safety features.

It is more likely that a website is authentic and encrypts (scrambles) your information during transmission if the web address starts with “https://.”

Use strong passwords.

Use passwords that are difficult to guess by using combinations of upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols, and even phrases. Passwords should be changed regularly, even if sites do not require it.

Be careful when using social networking sites.

Cyber criminals use social networking sites to gather information about individuals, such as date of birth, mother’s maiden name, a pet’s name or other details that may help them figure out passwords. Cyber criminals may pretend to be your “friend” to convince you to send money or divulge personal information.

Businesses should establish security practices and policies for employees.

These should include internet usage guidelines, setting expectations and consequences for policy violations.

Businesses should control access to data and computers and create user accounts for each employee.

Access or use of business computers should be limited to authorized individuals. Employees should have separate user accounts and be prohibited from sharing accounts or credentials. Access to data or systems should be on a need to know basis.

Identity Theft & Phishing

Identity Theft is one of today’s fastest-growing crimes. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and identification and opens credit card accounts or applies for loans in your name. Most identity theft victims never know they have been taken advantage of until they apply for a loan or receive a call from a collection agency. Clearing your name and the effects of identity theft can take months or even years.

Phishing involves the use of unsolicited emails to trick customers into disclosing sensitive personal information such as social security numbers, account numbers, passwords or other confidential information.

In a typical case, you’ll receive an email that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the email may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.

The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The email will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution’s website.

In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual website. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information. In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.

If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.

Steps you can take to protect yourself against Identity Theft and Fraud.

  1. Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
  2. If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the solicitor yourself. You can find phone numbers and websites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in a phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
  3. Never provide your password or account numbers over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request unless you know the person or organization you are dealing with.
  4. Shred any bank statements, credit card offers or pre-approved credit applications before disposing of them.
  5. Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.
  6. Obtain and review copies of your credit report. Order copies of your credit report annually to check for inaccuracies or fraudulent accounts.
  7. Report suspicious email to the Federal Trade Commission (

What to do if you become a victim of identity theft.

Contact your financial institution and credit card companies immediately.

If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name.

  1. Equifax (
    1. Place a fraud alert 888-766-0008
    2. Order a credit report 800-685-1111
  2. Experian (
    • Place a fraud alert 888-397-3742
    • Order a credit report 888-397-3742
  3. TransUnion (
    • Place a fraud alert 800-680-7289
    • Order a credit report 800-888-4213

Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.

Mobile Phone/Tablet Security

With everyone doing so many everyday activities on their mobile devices, it is important to remember to treat these devices as your computer. This means keeping your device updated and protected.

  • Be sure to update your mobile device when security fixes are developed.
  • Install security software on your mobile device to help protect from hackers and cybercriminals.
  • Be conscious of where you place your mobile device and always secure it with a unique pin only you know.
  • Before responding, registering, downloading or providing information, go online to check for scams, look up the company or sender, search for hidden fees or reports of malware associated with the company or sender, and independently verify any claims.
  • When using free WIFI hotspots to access data avoid logging into accounts, especially financial accounts when using public wireless networks.
  • Back up the information on your phone, so you will always have it even if you don’t have access to your cell phone.
  • Avoid Clicking on links in text messages or emails, since they may lead to malicious websites or downloads.
  • Don’t save login information on your mobile device, especially to online banking sites.
  • Before downloading any app, make sure it is from a known provider. Then read the app’s privacy policy to make sure that it is not sharing your personal information.
  • Install malware and virus protection software on your device, and keep it up to date.