Online Security Tips

Helpful Tips

Always be careful about giving our personal financial information over the internet.

  • Log into online accounts and regularly verify statements and transactions.
  • Use caution when you receive emails urgently requesting personal financial information.
  • Be cautious about downloading any files or opening attachments from e-mails.
  • Avoid the “too good to be true” offers, because they most likely are “too good to be true”.
  • Before completing an online transaction, check the site for indicators that it is secure. Signs: typically begin with “https” and display a lock in the lower right corner of your browser.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date.

Use Strong Passwords

Passwords are naturally subject to many different attacks, but with these few tips you can avoid being victim to hackers.

  • Length equals strength. Use “passphrases” (sentences) that are easy to remember. Create passwords that are at least 16 characters long, even longer when possible.
  • Avoid using your username or reusing passwords with minimal adjustments.
  • Keep passwords safe. Memorize and never tell anyone or have them written down.

Install and Update Anti-Virus Software

Malware can infect a computer through file downloads, email attachments, USB thumb drives and other removable media. There are many new threats/pieces of malware each year. By taking caution and following these few steps, you home computer can remain secure.

  • Install anti-virus software from a reputable anti-virus manufacturer. You get what you pay for. Examples of some anti-virus software are: McAfee, Kaspersky, Sophos, and Symantec.
  • Keep software up-to-date and run automatic updates daily.
  • Run a “full scan” on thumb drives or any other removable media.
  • Scan all email attachments before they are opened
  • Visit http://www.av-comparatives.org to view a list of the various anti-virus software that is available.

Only Download Software from Reputable Websites

Without knowing where software or download originated from, you could be subject to some serious threats.

  • Malware is sometimes disguised as software downloads, so make sure you are using reputable websites.
  • Most major software vendors sell and distribute their product on their website.
  • Independent developers will take steps to ensure your security, make sure you search from favorable references from sources like industry news and review sites.

Look for the Certificate

The convenience of online shopping has never been more convenient for consumers. It is important to only enter personal financial information in sites that are protected and encrypted with a security certificate.

  • When browsing and entering personal and financial information be sure to be aware of sites that have a certificate.
  • A secure site with a certificate will display a “padlock” and have the protocol “https” before the URL.
  • Most browsers will have a “green” indicator when there is a valid certificate and encrypted protocol is being used.
  • If you click on the “padlock” icon, you can view information about the certificate. This will tell you what third-party was used to issue the certificate and validate the website.
  • Your browser will warn you if there is a problem with a certificate or if there is an absence of a certificate. In this case, NEVER enter personal information or passwords.

Ways to Secure your Mobile Device

Treat your smart phone and your tablet as you would a computer hooked up to the internet. Follow some basic steps to protect yourself and the information stored on your device:

  • Make sure your device has a password and make it a strong one!
  • Record you device’s unique ID number.
  • Make sure your device has the latest operating system.
  • Pay attention as you configure your device- be careful that you are not enabling gps tracking or other features that could risk your privacy. Enable gps tracking only on an app-by-app basis if it is truly necessary for the app to do its job.
  • Install anti-virus/anti-malware on your device – you can normally find many options in your app stores.
  • Install a device manager or tracker to disable your phone and locate it should it be lost or stolen.
  • Back up the photos and files on your device to the cloud, but be sure that you understand how this sometimes sensitive data will be protected.
  • Only download apps that you need and make sure they are from a trusted provider.

Use Hardware Firewall on your Home Network

One of the first steps to security is having a firewall. Adding a hardware firewall will take your security to a level that is not attainable by a firewall.

  • A hardware firewall will offer a different level of security. It will act as a physical barrier that will shield your network and possibly malicious traffic.
  • Make sure you have a router with a built in firewall.

Secure your Wi-Fi

A Wi-Fi password is broadcast through the air every time you turn your computer on, hackers can trick your computer to resending the password, which can give them access to view everything you do online.

  • Use the same rules you use for your computer.
  • You should change Wi-Fi passwords at least four times a year.
  • Like choosing passwords for your computer, make sure your Wi-Fi password is at least 16 characters long with letters, numbers, and symbols.

Patch your Mobile Device Apps and Operating System

It is important to know that malicious threats to an app can expose your entire device.

  • Check for updates and update apps and operating systems as soon as you receive notification of such.
  • Make sure the automatic update feature is turned on- this will help you update your smartphone in a timely matter.