October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Learning how to identify online fraud and understanding how fraudulent activity happens helps with prevention. Here are some past blog posts with information on identity theft and prevention.  AdobeStock_141951442

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Check out our security section of our website for more resources and tips to protect yourself and your business from cybersecurity threats.

Be Wary of Fake Apps in the Cybersphere

“User Beware” is a good catchphrase to keep in mind when it comes to apps for your smart phone or electronic tablet. That’s because there are bogus apps out there waiting to snare unsuspecting prey.tips-to-avoid-fake-scamming-apps

These apps will often appear as software programs that mimic legitimate ones, such as apps for popular retailers. But if you download them, you could be setting yourself up for theft of personal or financial information. Or you could end up paying for apps that just don’t work. Worse yet, you might end up downloading malicious software that could keep you locked out of your device until you pay a ransom.

Unscrupulous software developers have found ways to infiltrate app stores with their phony apps, often snaring people with enticing ads. But many of these ads or app descriptions will have misspellings or poorly designed knock-off logos of retailers – signs that they’re not legitimate. That’s because they likely were designed in a rush, or the designers were from overseas (which is typically the case) and English isn’t their first language.

That’s not to say that there aren’t phony apps that closely mirror those they’re imitating. If you’re not sure that such apps are legitimate, go to the retailer’s websites in question and see if they have an app available. If they do, they will direct you to the app store to download it. You can also do a search using the retailer’s name and “fake app” in the search box to see if the company has reported that its brand has been hijacked.

Some other ways to uncover bogus apps include:

Checking to see who published the app and when it was published. Phony developers will use similar names as those they’re spoofing for their apps. And scam apps often have recent publish dates, while legitimate ones will have an “updated on” date.

Fake apps have few, if any, reviews. And if they do have some, they’ll likely be generic and short.

Look at how often the app has been downloaded. Legitimate apps will have hundreds, if not thousands, of downloads under their belts. Fake ones won’t rival those numbers.

If an app offers unbelievable shopping discounts, be wary of it. That’s because it’s probably just another ploy to get you to download it.

Look for reviews of an app before downloading it. You should be able to find reviews in the app stores and on the internet. If the app has no reviews, it was likely created recently, and could be a fake. Real apps for big retailers often have thousands of reviews.

Does your device use the Android operating system? If so, go to your settings and then to security and check that you’re set up to prohibit third-party app downloads from untrusted sites.

Generally speaking, it’s probably best to keep your guard up before downloading any app.

8 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. We recommend following these tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.tips-to-protect-you-from-identity-fraud

  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.

  1. Shred sensitive papers.

Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Learning how to identify online fraud and understanding how fraudulent activity happens helps with prevention. Here are some past blog posts with information on identity theft and prevention.october-is-national-cybersecurity-awareness-month

 
How to Avoid a ‘Card Cracking’ Scam
What You Need to Know about Ransomware
3 Ways to Verify a Legitimate E-mail

 
Check back every Tuesday for the month of October for blog posts with tips and information on protecting yourself from cybersecurity.

Keep Thieves from Getting Their Hands on Your Passwords

When’s the last time you changed the password for your online banking account? Or for the website where you pay your credit card bill? If you can’t remember, now’s a good time to switch it up. And don’t create a new password that’s easy to figure out, or use the same password you’re already using for other accounts. That’s just looking for trouble.prevent-thieves-from-getting-your-passwords

Cyber security experts offer a number of tips to help ward off online thieves. And rightfully so, since millions of people fall victim to cyber-crimes every year.

Have a password that’s easy to remember? Chances are it’s going to be easy for a thief to figure out, too. Sure, it’s hard to forget “123abc”, but using such a short and simple password is an open invitation to cyber theft.

Mix it up. Experts recommend using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to create a password. And throw in a made-up word or two, like “beahighve” or ‘”jabberwockysnark”.

Don’t get personal. You know how you post all those photos of your pet on Facebook and mention her by name, then use that name as a password? That’s easy pickings for a thief. So stay away from such things as names and birth dates and addresses.

Make it long. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. That is, if you follow the previous suggestions for creating a password.

Don’t share. That may sound rude, but passwords aren’t meant to be shared with friends, partners, family members, or neighbors. They’re intended to protect you and your information. So keep them to yourself.

Alter them frequently. It’s recommended that passwords be changed every month or so.

Get some help. If you’re having a tough time keeping track of all your passwords, there are software programs that can manage them for you. Some are free; others you have to pay for. These programs store your login credentials for all the websites you use, and help you access those sites automatically. They encrypt your password database with a master password, which is then the only password you have to remember.

Stay out of the public eye. That free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop down the street may be enticing to use, but it’s not going to protect you from cyber crooks. They love public Wi-Fi because it gives them easy access to people’s passwords and online accounts.

Don’t get lazy. Isn’t it great how some websites will “remember” login and password information for you so you don’t have to type it in every time you visit those sites? Convenient, yes, but this “remembering” feature is yet another avenue cyber thieves can use to uncover your login credentials.

Remember that when it comes to passwords, the first line of defense is you. So don’t open yourself up to thievery by failing to follow these basic password safeguards.

Don’t Get Hooked By A Cyber Crook

Sometimes you have to think like a crook in order to fight off a crook. For instance, what runs through the mind of a cyber thief seeking an unsuspecting victim?AdobeStock_92627697

  1. I’m looking for someone who uses the same password for several online accounts. That includes bank accounts and credit card accounts.
  2. How do I figure out what that password is? Hmmm, I’ll look for clues that they put out there on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Personal information like the name of their pet or one of their children. Look, they have a dog name Fido. Then let’s try Fido123 as their password. Voila! It works!
  3. Now, let’s see if their home Wi-Fi is password protected. If I can get into their network without a password, I can then check if their computer has anti-virus software.
  4. OK, I have access to their bank account. But I’m not going to clean it out right away. I’ll make a small purchase here and there to see if they’re checking their account regularly. And if they’re not, I’m going to go for the big score!

If any of this strikes close to home, then it’s time to strengthen your cyber defenses. You can do that by following these tips by cyber security experts:

  • Use a different password for each online account you have, and change it frequently. Each password should include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Don’t share passwords with others, even if it’s a friend or a family member.
  • Avoid using personal information when selecting passwords or answers to security questions, especially if this information can be easily found by others online, such as on your Facebook page.
  • Don’t save passwords on your computer, tablet or smart phone. Instead, put pen to paper and write them down on a note pad or in a journal. There is also password management software designed specifically to keep track of your passwords.
  • Password-protect your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and mobile phone, as well as your Wi-Fi service at home.
  • Monitor your bank account online at least once a week. Do the same for credit card and debit card activity, especially if you use your cards on a regular basis.
  • If you discover suspicious or unauthorized charges in one or more of your accounts, contact the affected financial institutions immediately. Note that a popular tactic of cyber thieves is to “sneak” small transactions by victims to see if they’re paying attention to their account activity. If they see those transactions going undetected, they’ll swoop in to make major purchases that could have a significant financial impact.
  • Install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it up to date. This is especially important if you do a lot of transactions online, such as buying items or services. And avoid making purchases on sites you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Log off or turn off your computer when you’re not using it. And close your browser and sensitive apps before going offline.
  • Don’t open e-mails or attachments from suspicious or unknown sources. These are typical approaches used by cyber crooks to gain access to information on your computer or take control of it. The same goes for links that are in e-mails. Unless you know for sure where those links are going to take you, don’t click on them.
  • Never access your financial institution’s website for online banking or to make credit card payments from a public computer at a hotel, library, coffee house or other public wireless access point.

No matter if you’re on your smart phone, computer or tablet, always be alert and on guard against cyber criminals.

11 Things Every Smartphone User Should Know

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same convenient access for criminals. Here are some tips you can follow to keep your information – and your money – safe.

  1. Use the pass-code 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.
  2. Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  3. Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  4. Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
  5. Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  6. Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
  7. Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  8. Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  9. Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade 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.
  10. Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
  11. Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.

For more information and tips on cyber-security, check out Bank5 Connect’s Security Center.