What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
The Internet is a great place to find information, go shopping and stay in touch with friends, but it can also be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful. Farmington Bank is committed to helping you stay safe when you are online. Below are some helpful tips and best practices that you can use while cruising the internet highway.How Safe Are You?
Protect Your Identity
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, Social Security Number, credit card or financial account numbers, passwords, and other personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Take a few moments to review steps that you can take to avoid being a victim.
Keep Software Current and Updated
All software contains security vulnerabilities that make it possible for someone to compromise a computer. Farmington Bank recommends that customers update all software as necessary. This is extremely important for Adobe products, Java versions and web browser versions.
Use Anti-malware Software
Malware is a general term used to describe viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, and rootkits. Malware’s purpose varies, but generally, it is hostile, intrusive and an annoyance. Customers can help prevent malware by using antivirus and antispyware software that contains the latest malware definitions and practice safe Internet browsing. Customers should also avoid opening email attachments from unknown users and installing unsolicited software.
Use a Firewall
Firewalls permit or deny Internet activity. Firewalls can be either hardware-based or software-based. The majority of today’s operating systems come with software-based firewalls. In addition, many home users have a hardware-based firewall that comes bundled with their high-speed Internet routers. Farmington Bank recommends that customers use firewalls at all times, especially if performing banking activities in public places.
Guard ID’s and Passwords
ID’s and passwords are usually the first line of defense for protecting computers. They can consist of letters, numbers, multiple words or symbols. Use the following guidelines for selecting and storing ID’s and passwords:
- Use a minimum of 8 characters containing a combination of UPPERCASE and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols (#$%&).
- Stay away from obvious information such as birthdays, pet names and nicknames.
- Use a different password for each of your online accounts.
- Avoid using the “remember my password” option even if your computer suggests it.
- Change your passwords often and never reuse them.
- Do not share your passwords, write them down or post them near your computer.
A user’s access privileges determine what they are able to do on a computer. While it may be convenient to use an administrative account while working on a computer, this is one of the easiest ways of becoming infected with malware, as malware generally requires elevated privileges to execute. Farmington Bank recommends that customers only grant users the privileges necessary to perform their activities. Businesses can enhance the security of their online activities by using a special purpose computer for all banking activities.
Regularly Review Your Statements
Check your bank and credit card statements each month to ensure all transactions are valid and report suspicious activity immediately. Better yet, utilize your financial institutions online banking and eStatement services which will allow you to quickly and easily review your activity daily. You generally have up to thirty days from your last statement date to report suspicious activity and avoid liability for future losses.
Minimize Mobile Security Risks
The use of smartphones (e.g., iPhone, Android) to perform banking activities is on the rise. Further, smartphones have many of the capabilities that computers do and are beginning to face similar risks that affect computers. Follow these guidelines to minimize risk:
- Mobile Application - From reputable sources only (e.g., iTunes App Store, Android Market).
- Passwords - Password-protect your smartphone.
- Email and Internet - These face the same risks as they do on computers, including phishing attacks, malicious websites, infected attachments and scams. Use the same precautions you would when using your computer.
- Wireless Interfaces - Wireless interfaces may be enabled by default which would allow your smartphone to connect to a public wireless network automatically. While this may be desired activity, there are risks involved because the security of that wireless network cannot be guaranteed.
- Updating - Keep your smartphone and any installed applications up to date.
- Firewall - Enable your smartphone’s built-in firewall.
- Anti-malware - Install antimalware software.
- Disposal - Erase all personal information before disposing of your smartphone.
Manage Wireless Security Risks
The majority of computing devices purchased today have wireless capabilities. Further, many public locations have wireless hotspots available for public use. By default, wireless networks are not secure and individuals with malicious intent can eavesdrop on what you are doing. Follow these guidelines when using wireless technology:
- Encryption - Use the strongest level of encryption on your home wireless network.
- Passwords - Change the default administrator passwords on your home wireless network.
- Make the wireless network invisible – Disable your home wireless network’s ability to broadcast its service set identifier (SSID).