Protect Your “Cyber Home” With a Solid Foundation
Simple steps to secure your computers and mobile devices for Internet banking and shopping
Take precautions if you provide financial account information to third parties online. For example, some people use online “account aggregation” services that, from one website, can provide a convenient way to pay bills, monitor balances in deposits and investment accounts, and even keep track of your frequent flyer miles. While these websites may be beneficial, they can also present potential issues related to the security of the account information you have shared with them.
Periodically check your bank accounts for signs of fraud. If you bank online, check your deposit accounts and lines of credit at regular intervals to spot and report errors or fraudulent transactions, just as you would review a paper statement. Online banking makes it easier and faster to monitor your accounts. This is important, because the sooner you can detect a problem with a transaction, the easier it should be to fix.
Take extra precautions for logging into bank and other financial accounts. These measures include using “strong” user IDs and passwords by choosing combinations of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols that are hard for a hacker to guess. Don’t use your birthdate, address or other words or numbers that can be easy for con artists to find out or guess. Don’t use the same password for different accounts because a criminal who obtains one password can then log in to your other accounts. Keep your user IDs and passwords secret, and change them regularly. Make sure to log out of financial accounts when you complete your transactions or walk away from the computer.
Basic Security Tips
Keep your software up to date.
Software manufacturers continually update their products to fix vulnerabilities or security weaknesses when they find them. “All of your software should be checked and updated as generally recommended by the manufacturer or when flaws are found,” explained Kathryn Weatherby, a fraud examination specialist for the FDIC. “This advice goes for everything from your operating system to your word processing software, Internet browsers, spreadsheet software, and even your digital photography applications. A vulnerability in one piece of software, no matter how insignificant it may seem, can be exploited by a hacker and used as a pathway into your whole computer.”
Install anti-virus software that prevents, detects and removes malicious programs
Crooks and computer hackers are always developing new malware that can access computers and steal information, such as account passwords or credit or debit card numbers. These programs also may be able to destroy data from the infected computer’s hard drive.
Use a firewall program to prevent unauthorized access to your PC
A firewall is a combination of hardware and software that establishes a barrier between your personal computer and an external network, such as the Internet, and then monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. In simple terms, a firewall acts as a gatekeeper that helps screen out hackers, malware and other intruders who try to access your computer from the Internet.
For more information about cybersecurity, download A Bank Customer’s Guide to Cybersecurity PDF.