Every year, millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2016, cyber victims lost $1.3 billion from scams initiated through the web. Whittier Trust recommends the following tips to help keep your information safe online:
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. Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org —and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
4. Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles 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.
October is National Cyber-Security Awareness Month
National Cyber-Security Awareness Month occurs every October as a national campaign designed to increase the public’s awareness of cyber-security and cyber-crime issues.
As a follow-up to our recent Of Interest regarding the Equifax breach, Whittier Trust would like to provide you with some additional helpful hints and ideas to consider that can help keep you informed and may protect you and your family against potential cyber-crimes.
EIGHT TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY
Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In 2016, there were 15.4 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S., according to Javelin Strategy and Research. Whittier Trust recommends following these tips to keep your information—and your money—safe.
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 annualcreditreport.com.
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.
4 WAYS TO AVOID RANSOMWARE ATTACKS
RANSOMWARE is a form of malware used by cyber criminals to freeze your computer or mobile device, steal your data and demand a “ransom”—typically anywhere from a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars—be paid. Ransomware can affect individual computers or laptops, enterprise networks and or servers used by government agencies, financial institutions and healthcare providers. Whittier Trust recommends the following tips to help avoid ransomware attacks:
1. DON’T CLICK.
Visiting unsafe, suspicious or fake websites can lead to the intrusion of malware. Be cautious when opening
e-mails or attachments you don’t recognize even if the message comes from someone in your contact list.
2. ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR FILES.
By maintaining offline copies of your personal information, ransomware scams will have a limited impact on you. If targeted, you will be less inclined to take heed to threats posed by cyber criminals.
3. 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.
4. ENABLE POPUP BLOCKERS.
To prevent popups, turn on popup blockers to avert unwanted ads, popups or browser malware from constantly appearing on your computer screen.