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Cyber Security

November 25, 2014 • General News

By: Jesse Rose, Teller

Given the recent discovery of security bugs like Heartbleed and Shellshock, massive card compromises at both local and corporate businesses, and the rising presence of hackers in the global community, practicing effective cyber security is more important than it’s ever been. We understand your concern for keeping your information protected these days and want you to be safe, so we’ve compiled a list of some great tips to follow in order to prevent or recover from potential cyber attacks.

--Check your accounts frequently for unauthorized or unfamiliar transactions, daily if possible. The sooner you can catch an act of fraud, the easier it will be to repair the damage. Also, take an annual look at your credit reports and keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t seem right.

-- Vary your passwords for each website you use. Pick something strong with symbols, numbers, and a mixture of upper and lower case letters. Don’t think selecting a random word will be enough -- hackers use software that can enter an entire dictionary’s worth of possible passwords, so get creative! (Consider using a “passphrase” instead of just a password. For example, “Jack and Jill” could become “JaknJ!11,” or “Happy Thanksgiving” could be reworked as Ha99yTh@nksgiving.)

--Be cautious of anyone who contacts you by phone, email, text, or mail asking for credit card numbers or private info; in addition, look out for emails with links to unfamiliar websites or unexpected attachment files. If someone contacts you claiming to be part of a company or organization (or even someone you know!) and you are not sure if they are legitimate, get in touch through an official phone number or email address and verify whether the supposed communication was genuine. Scammers are getting better and more creative at sounding or looking like a trustworthy source in order to steal your money or identity, so err on the side of caution!

--Keep hard copies of all of your data and lock it up in a secure place like a home safe or a safe deposit box (which we can provide!). Carry around only the cards you need when you need them; leave your Social Security Number card at home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Shred all unwanted documents with sensitive information such as credit card offers, insurance forms, or financial institution statements; don’t just chuck them in the recycling bin or trash. If you choose to save your information on online servers or “cloud” storage, back it up to multiple locations in case of server crashes, viruses, or security breaches.

--To prevent mail theft, deposit mail directly in a post office collection box or drop it off at the post office. (If you are sending mail to pay bills, you might want to look into our online Bill Pay or automatic withdrawal, both of which are much safer options!)

--When disposing of a cell phone or computer, check the instructions on how best to destroy any information remaining on the device.

--Be careful what kind of information you post on social networking sites. Don’t share things like your home address, phone number, date of birth, or account information in public posts that anyone can see. (BONUS TIP: Consider posting your vacation pictures AFTER you’ve returned, and try not to “check in” at locales on your travels. Otherwise, someone might be able to easily see that you are out of your house, making it much easier for them to rob you!)

--Install quality security software on your computer, including an anti-virus program, an anti-spyware program, and a firewall. Check for updates on these programs regularly, and make sure they are scanning your computer on a consistent basis.

--Be wary of public wi-fi. Make sure you are on a secured connection or else you run the risk of having your info stolen. If you are dealing with sensitive data on certain websites, make sure that they are encrypted: this is usually noted by a “padlock” symbol in your web browser, as well as a website address that begins with “https” – S meaning “secure.” However, even this is not an absolute guarantee for safety, so if you want to ensure total security, wait until you can access your personal wireless connection at home.

So to sum everything up and stay safe: keep up to date on the latest security info, be creative with your passwords and storage methods, and be cautious with unfamiliar people and situations at all times!


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