Online Security is a growing concern for many people as they begin to rely more and more on online services for their convenience and usability. You want your information to be accessible when you need it, but you also want to make sure that your information is secure from unwanted eyes. That’s why we take every precaution necessary to make sure that your information is safe. However, there are some things that we can’t control, such as your personal computer, so we put together a list of some of the most important things you can do to help protect your information. There is no such thing as perfect security, but if you follow these tips you will be on the right path towards better online security.
Update Your Computer
Viruses and other attacks often take advantage of missing security updates to gain access to your computer. These updates are intended to fix security issues that would otherwise leave you open to attack. Updating will ensure that these security updates are installed and preventing those attacks from being successful.
- For Windows users, run Microsoft Update to keep your system and Microsoft programs up to date.
- For Mac users, run Software Update to keep your system and Apple programs up to date.
Unfortunately, this is not enough because attackers often take advantage of missing security updates on non-Microsoft programs such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Java, and Firefox. Make sure you update these 3rd party programs as well to stay current with all of your security updates.
Only Use Secure WiFi
Don’t use any unsecured WiFi networks (networks that don’t require a password) or connect to any public wireless networks (coffee shops, hotels, and local businesses) if you plan to access your personal information. Attackers can connect to these networks and watch what you do, steal your information, and even break into your computer. These networks may be fine for checking the weather, but you wouldn’t want to risk allowing access to your financial information or even your email.
Don’t Trust Email From Unknown People
Don’t open attachments or click on links in an email if you don’t know who it is from. These are the two main ways you can be attacked via email. For example, a virus can be hidden inside a PDF so that it can take advantage of a missing security update for Adobe Reader. Similarly, clicking on a link in an email can launch an attack that will try to take advantage of missing updates in your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.). If you don’t have the update, then you would likely fall victim to the attack and not even know it happened.
Look out for tricks that try to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. Attackers are clever and will do anything to get you to click a link. These attacks are often disguised as offers for free products or services or convey some level of urgency requiring you to act. One example would be an email saying that your account is going to be closed unless you click on a link. If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of an email, contact the company or person using contact information that you know is correct and confirm the message with them.
NOTE: Opportunities will never ask you for your password or the answers to your security questions. Be wary of any suspicious emails that APPEAR to come from Opportunities. Attackers may “spoof” an email to appear as if it is coming from your credit union to try to convince you that their email is real. Please call Opportunities before you click on any links or attachments if you are suspicious of any email that appears to come from us.
Browse With Caution
While keeping your web browser up to date will help prevent a majority of known attacks against your browser, there is always a chance that an attacker knows of a “security bug” that doesn’t have a corresponding security update. Until this security update is created and released, everyone using that browser is going to be vulnerable to attack. By updating your browser regularly, you are reducing the window of time that your computer could be attacked.
Additional Steps You Can Take To Browse Safely:
Don’t save your passwords in your browser. If an attacker successfully gets you to visit his or her website, he or she may be able to steal all of the passwords that your browser has saved.
Verify that any site with sensitive information is protected by HTTPS. If the beginning of the website URL is HTTP instead of HTTPS, then your information is not being transmitted securely and could be stolen.
Check for a green indicator in the address bar. This indicates that extra steps were taken to make sure you are connecting to the right site. Take a look at your address bar now. You should note that this site is using HTTPS and the address bar should have a green indicator.
Use your favorites or bookmarks to store commonly accessed sites. By using these favorites you are making sure you are going to the same site every time instead of a fake or spoofed site that an attacker may create to steal your username and password.
Concerned About Mobile Security or Identity Theft?
Mobile Security – Here are some tips to help you stay secure on your smartphone or tablet
Identity Theft – Here are some tips to help you keep your identity information from being stolen.