Just about everybody is on the ‘net by now, which means that just about everybody needs to monitor their internet security on a regular basis. Here are some really good online references to help you.
Everything that connects the internet to you and your loved ones must be secure enough to protect you while doing its job efficiently. Adequate protection generally comes from having the right attitude about online security and performing simple steps. (Securing your smart phone with a passkey is one example of where having the proper attitude will reduce the factor of inconvenience.)
The problem is that it’s hard to keep up-to-date with the latest threats and mitigation techniques. And, as important, it is hard to know whom to trust, what to believe. Here are three websites to bookmark and check regularly:
- We often cite the Federal Trade Commission on this blog. Their Computer Security section contains an extensive link-list for topics ranging from What to do with old computers to “Free” Computer Scams.
- Consumer Reports also provides helpful links grouped by a topic on their “Guide to Internet Security” page. There is a regular “new topic” featured at the top of the page. Other topics currently include Protect Your Personal Data, Malware, Privacy, Social Networks, Identity Theft and Personal finance (which addresses current news topics such as the Home Depot data breach). We can’t guarantee that the information on these pages has been properly fact-checked for accuracy, but we think they provide links to basic guidance.
- Online security content that you can bank is on Peoples Bank’s own website. The bank provides verified, trusted news and solutions for Identity Theft and Online Security Tools, as well as a very robust security system for customers. Browsing this blog’s “Online Security” category posts will get you posts for both a strategic and tactical approach to your internet security (personal and business). Most of these blog posts contain links to other websites for more detailed information.
Cyber crime is a growing threat to everyone’s financial health. Peoples Bank deploys a combination of safeguards to protect our customers’ information, and we encourage our customers to partner with us in that effort. Taking all the available protective steps, we will all be safer and more secure. If you have questions or concerns, please call us at 877-802-1212.
Create c0mplic@t3d passwords. Avoid birthdays, pet names and simple passwords like 12345. It is also important to change passwords at least three times a year. Because friendly theft – theft by someone the victim knows – is the most common type of identity theft or fraud, don’t share your passwords with family members and be mindful of who has access to your personal information.
Keep tabs on your accounts. Check account activity and online statements often, instead of waiting for the monthly statement. You are the first line of defense because you know right away if a transaction is fraudulent. If you notice unusual or unauthorized activity, notify your bank right away. When a customer reports an unauthorized transaction in a timely manner, the bank will cover the loss and take measures to protect the account.
Stay alert online. Be sure computers and mobile devices are equipped with up-to-date anti-virus and malware protection. Never give out your personal financial information in response to an unsolicited email, no matter how official it may seem. Your bank will never contact you by email asking for your password, PIN, or account information. Only open links and attachments from trusted sources. When submitting financial information on a website, look for the padlock or key icon at the top or bottom of your browser, and make sure the Internet address begins with “https.” This signals that your information is secure during transmission.
Mobilize your defenses. 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 from senders you don’t know.
Tips for Victims of Cyber Crime:
If you are a victim of fraud and suspect your personal information has been compromised, you should take the following steps:
- Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can take necessary steps to protect your account.See all Peoples Bank contact numbers.
- File a police report and call the fraud unit of the three credit-reporting companies
- Consider placing a victim statement in your credit report and a fraud alert on your account.
- Keep a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter. Write down names, titles, and phone numbers in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
- Contact the FTC’s ID Theft Consumer Response Center at 1-877-ID THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
Electronic statements are safer than paper statements that must be printed, mailed and stored. But both types of statements may contain check images that include a representation of your signature used to authorize the check. If you store check images or statements on your computer, please make sure you take precautions to protect that sensitive information.
If you still receive paper statements, or have stored old statements, where check signatures may be visible, be sure to keep them in a safe place. Better yet, shred them.
Before you get that neat gadget or appliance that accesses the internet, think about the potential risks and how to mitigate them.
There are some pretty neat things you can do over the internet these days: unlock the door(s) of your home, change your thermostat setting, disarm the burglar alarm when you pull into the garage, automatically post grocery lists directly from your refrigerator, or even watch your pets during the day while you’re at work (not that you would ever actually do that). The bad guys can do some pretty scary things over the internet using those same devices. Here are some tips to reduce your personal risk, and some things to consider.
All these devices connected to the internet (connected devices) making up what is collectively called the “Internet of Things” or IoT. Examples are the remote locks you can install on the doors of your home, the health and fitness devices that you wear or that are part of your exercise equipment that track your stats via website or mobile device, printers that you can access when away from home or work, security systems with remote management accessibility, webcams and so on.
Most of them make life far more convenient, or improve it. Here’s the problem with the Internet of Things: most of the devices are not secure enough. The manufacturer often doesn’t pay close enough attention to the security of their core processors. The firmware or software of the device needs regular updates but their owners are unaware of this, or even how to update it. (Would you know how to update a webcam?) In fact, the threat from webcam breach is a good example. We recommend you read the Peoples Voice alert about Webcam security if you haven’t already done so. There’s a story there that contains practical suggestions for webcam security, including why you should even think about it. It links to a story about a frightening webcam hack.
Here are some basic tips to help protect against the threats:
- Weigh the risk against the reward. It’s convenient to be able to remotely unlock your back door for tradesmen who need access while you’re away, but it may not be worth the risk of your system being hacked to allow criminals or enemies access to you home. One security expert, a Garner analyst, assigned “relative risk” to all his connected devices. You might be surprised at his findings. How would you rank your own connected devices at home?
- Use different passwords. We can’t overstate the importance of this simple act. Don’t let your connected thermostat have the same access credentials as your internet router, and don’t let anything have the same access credentials as your primary email or online banking account.
- Stay informed. Add some technology sites to your daily reading list. Sites such as Wired.com and ArsTechnica.com will very often have stories about security and devices known to be hacked, some of them might be ones you own or plan to purchase. This can help you find a solution or mitigate your own risk.
The most secure thing anyone can do is to become a homesteader in remotest Alaska. Wait. That’s not secure either. So perhaps it would be better to simply exercise caution and remain informed.