Simple Tips for Internet Safety

Without a doubt, the Internet makes our lives easier and has many benefits; but we can only reap these benefits if our Internet-enabled devices are secure and trusted. Here are some tips to increase the security of your Internet-enabled devices:

1. Keep a clean machine. Like your smartphone or PC, keep any device that connects to the Internet free from viruses and malware. Update the software regularly on the device itself as well as the apps you use to control the device.

2. Think twice about your device. Have a solid understanding of how a device works, the nature of its connection to the Internet, and the type of information it stores and transmits.

3. Secure your network. Properly secure the wireless network you use to connect Internet-enabled devices.

ATM Skimming

Watch out for skimming when using an ATM.  Credit and Debit card skimming is when potential thieves steal or "skim" your card information. They use it to create an illegal copy of your card or to charge items to your card via phone or internet.

Thieves use skimming devices that are small, easily portable, and hard to detect. Certain types are illegally installed on ATM machines and sales terminals such as those on gas pumps. Card skimmers fit over original card readers. As you insert your card, the account information stored on it is skimmed by the device. Keypad overlays are placed directly on top of factory-installed keypads.  The circuitry inside the overlay stores your keystrokes, like your PIN.

Try to only use ATMs inside of banks, which tend to have more oversight and be less vulnerable to tampering. Devices are more often installed on nonbank ATMs, for example a convenience store.

At an ATM or sales terminal, check to see if the colors and materials used match up. Look for an extra piece of plastic or anything that appears added on, wrong, or out of place. These can be signs of skimming devices. Don't use the machine if anything looks suspicious. It's better to be safe than sorry.  

Malware 101

Malware - short for malicious software - is an umbrella term that refers to any software program deliberately created to perform an unauthorized and often harmful action. Viruses, backdoors, keyloggers, spyware ,adware, rootkits, and trojans are just a few examples of what is considered malware. A few years ago,it was once sufficient to call something a 'virus' or 'trojan horse', however today's infection methods and vectors evolved and the terms 'virus and trojan' no longer provided a satisfactory definition for all the types of rogue programs that exist.

Remember that identity thieves can do more damage than using your credit card information to fund a shopping spree – some may use your personal information to compromise other accounts or set up new accounts under your name. Review all statements and banking information in detail, and contact the appropriate agencies as soon as you think there might be a problem.

If you have responded to a Scam
If you think you might have downloaded malware from a scam site or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, don't panic. Instead...

  • Get rid of malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem.
  • Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts too.

Phishing Scams

Don't be a phishing scam victim.  Reputable organizations will never ask for personal data, account numbers, or passwords via email.

FTC suggestions to help avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

•If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply.  And don't click on the link in the message, either.

•Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and keep them up to date.

•Don't email personal or financial information ever!