Category: Cyber-Security

Staying Safe Online – June 14, 2017

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15: Protect Yourself From Scans
There are many scams out there than can ensnare even savvy consumers. Many are designed specifically to target seniors. Scammers are professional liars and can be very convincing. They may contact you through the mail, email, social media, on-line dating sites, on the phone, or even in public. This guide will help you learn to recognize common warning signs of scams and simple steps that you can take to protect yourself.
Is It A Scam?
1. Is the sales person using high pressure sales tactics? Scams often say things like, “Act Now!”; “Time is running out!”; “This is a onetime offer!”
2. Are you being asked to pay upfront fees? Lottery and sweepstakes scams often employ this tactic. If you really won something the fees can be taken out of your winnings.
3. Are you being told that you won a contest that you didn’t enter? Lottery and sweepstakes scams almost always start this way. You can’t win a contest that you didn’t enter.
4. Have you been scammed in the past? Often scam victims have their personal contact information sold to other con artists. You may get unsolicited calls from people promising to get your money back or provide other remedies or offers. These ‘offers’ can be scams too. Beware!
5. Did you receive unsolicited mail, emails, or phone calls for services that you were not seeking? Research the companies that you want to employ. Many scams begin with someone knocking on your door offering services, or sending out promotional materials. This often happens in the case of home repair scams.
6. Are you being contacted by the police over the phone? Verify that they are who they say they are. Some scams begin with a person pretending to be a police officer who tells you that they are concerned that you have been a victim of a crime. They then proceed to solicit your personal information. In truth, the police will contact you in person if they have questions for you or believe that you have been a victim of a crime.
How To Protect Yourself
1. Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov.
2. When no longer needed, shred junk mail, old bills, bank statements and any other documents that have personal identifying information.
3. Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you originated the call and you know with whom you are talking. Particularly safeguard your social security number.
4. It is ok to be rude. If a sales person calls you or comes to your door who does not seem to be taking no for an answer, it is ok to terminate the conversation. Hang up the phone or close the door. You don’t have to let yourself be pressured into anything.
5. Never sign something that you don’t understand. Have a trusted and unbiased professional assist you when enter contracts or signing legal documents.
6. If you hire someone for personal assistance services, in home care services, etc. ensure that they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed.
7. Learn about scams and stay informed.
– Sign up for AARP’s Fraud Watch: http://action.aarp.org/site/SPageNavigator/FWN Registration Page.html
– Check out AARP’s interactive national fraud map: http://action.aarp.org/site/PageNavigator/FraudMap.html
– Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers information and tools for older Americans:
www.consumerfinance.gov/older-americans
– The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force offers resources and reports to help protect yourself against common types of frauds and scams: www.stopfraud.gov/protect.html
– Stay alert to common frauds and scams by checking consumer protection sites such as www.Fraud.org
– External Web Site Policy and FBI Common Fraud Schemes: www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

Staying Safe Online – June 7, 2017

Lessons From WannaCry
Recently, you most likely watched widespread news coverage of a new cyber attack called WannaCry. It infected over 200,000 computers worldwide and locked numerous organizations out of their data, including hospitals in the United Kingdom. There are several reasons this attack gained so much attention. First, it spread rapidly from computer to computer by attacking a known weakness in Windows computers. Second, the attack was a type of malware called Ransomware, which meant that once it infected your computer it encrypted all your files, locking you out of your data. The only way you could recover your data was from backups or by paying the attacker a $300 ransom to decrypt all of your data. The third and most important reason this attack gained so much attention was because it never should have happened. The weakness was well known by Microsoft, which had released a fix months earlier. But many organizations failed to install the fix, or were still using operating systems that are no longer supported by Microsoft. Here are three simple steps you can take to make sure attacks like WannaCry never infect your computers:
Patching- First and foremost, make sure your computers, mobile devices, apps, and anything else connected to the Internet are up-to-date. Cyber criminals are constantly looking for new vulnerabilities in the software your devices use. They use special programs to exploit and hack into the devices you are using. Meanwhile, the companies that created the software are hard at work fixing these vulnerabilities by releasing updates. By dutifully installing these updates on your computers and mobile devices, you make it much harder for someone to hack you. That’s what was so frustrating about the spread of WannaCry: the updates to fix and stop the attack had been released almost two months earlier by Microsoft. Had organizations kept their computers up-to-date, the attack would never have worked. To ensure that your devices stay current, enable automatic updating whenever possible to almost any technology connected to a network. This includes Internet-connected TVs, home routers, and gaming consoles (and someday perhaps even your car).
Backups- In some cases, cyber attacks like Ransomware may even infect up-to-date systems. A second way to protect yourself is to back up your data. Backups are copies of your information stored somewhere other than on your computer or mobile device. When you lose valuable data, you can recover that data from your backups. Unfortunately, too many people fail to perform regular backups. There are two ways to back up your data: physical media or cloud-based storage. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. Physical media is devices you control, such as external USB drives or network-connected drives located in your home or office. These enable you to backup and recover large amounts of data very fast. The disadvantage is that if you become infected with malware, such as Ransomware, it is possible for the infection to spread to your backups. If you are using physical media for backups, you should store copies of your backups off site in a secure location. Cloud-based solutions are online services that back up and store your files on the Internet. Typically, you install an application on your computer. The advantage of cloud-based solutions is their simplicity and infection cannot access cloud-based backups. The disadvantage is that it can take a long time to back up or recover very large amounts of data.
Phishing- Cyber criminals often use another attack method called phishing. Phishing is when cyber criminals send you an email that tries to trick you into opening an infected attachment or visiting a malicious website. If you do either, your computer may become infected. While WannaCry did not involve phishing, this attack method is commonly used for many other types of attacks, including most types of Ransomware. In addition, the cyber criminals who developed WannaCry will undoubtedly update their attack methods in the coming months and use new techniques, such as phishing, to infect even more computers. The key to protecting yourself against such email-based attacks is common sense. If an email or message seems odd, suspicious, or too good to be true, it is most likely an attack.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

Staying Safe Online – April 5, 2017

Securely Using Mobile Apps
Mobile devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and watches, have become one of the primary technologies we use in both our personal and professional lives. However, with the power of all these mobile apps comes risks. Here are some steps you can take to securely use and make the most of your mobile apps.
The first step is making sure you always download mobile apps from a safe, trusted source. Cyber criminals have mastered their skills at creating and distributing infected mobile apps that appear to be legitimate. If you install one of these infected apps, criminals can take complete control of your mobile device. By downloading apps from only well-known, trusted sources, you reduce the chance of installing an infected app. What you may not realize is the brand of mobile device you use determines your options for downloading apps.
For Apple devices, such as an iPad or iPhone, only download mobile apps from the Apple App Store. The advantage to this is Apple does a security check of all mobile apps before they are made available. In addition, if Apple does find an app in its store that it believes is infected, it will quickly remove the mobile app. Windows Phone uses a similar approach to managing applications.
Android mobile devices are different. Android gives you more flexibility by being able to download a mobile app from anywhere on the internet. However, with this flexibility comes more responsibility. Google does maintain a managed mobile app store similar to Apple’s, called Google Play. The mobile apps you download from Google Play have passed some basic security checks. Avoid downloading Android mobile apps from otherwebsites, as anyone, including cyber criminals, can easily create and distribute malicious mobile apps and trick you into infecting your mobile device. As an additional protection, install antivirus on your mobile device when possible. The key to securely using mobile apps is to install apps only from trusted sources, to install updates when available, and to grant only the required app permissions.
Regardless of which device you are using, an additional step you can take is to avoid apps that are brand new, that few people have downloaded, or that have very few positive comments. The longer an app has been available, the more people that have used it, and the more positive comments it has, the more likely that app can be trusted. In addition, install only the apps you need and use. If you stop using an app, remove it from your mobile device. (You can always add it back later if you find you need it.)
Finally, never jailbreak or root your mobile device. This is the process of hacking into it and installing unapproved apps or changing existing, built-in functionality. This not only bypasses or eliminates many of the security controls built into your mobile device, but often also voids warranties and support contracts.
Once you have installed a mobile app from a trusted source, make sure it is safely configured and protecting your privacy. Always think before allowing a mobile app access: do you want to grant the app the permission it asks for, and does the app really need it?
Mobile apps, just like your computer and mobile device operating system, must be updated to stay current. Criminals are constantly searching for and finding weaknesses in apps. The more often you check for and install updates, the better. Most devices allow you to configure your system to update mobile apps automatically. We recommend this setting. If this is not possible, then we recommend you check at least every two weeks for updates. Finally, when your apps are updated, always make sure you verify any new permissions they might require.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

Staying Safe Online – March 1, 2017

BACK IT UP: Protect Yourself
Protect yourself against data loss by making electronic copies of important files, commonly referred to as a backup. Our computers contain vast amounts of data, from family photos and music collections to financial records and personal contacts. In fact, a recent National Cyber Security Alliance/Symantec study found that more than 68% of Americans store 25% or more of their photos digitally. For most people, the loss of that information could be devastating. Data can be lost in several ways: computer malfunctions, theft, viruses, spyware, accidental deletion, and natural disasters.
Data backup is a simple, three step process:
• Make copies of your data
• Select the hardware or method to store your data
• Safely store the backup device that holds your copied files
Make Copies of Your Data
Many computers come with a backup software program installed, so check to see if you have one. Most backup software programs will allow you to make copies of every file and program on your computer, or just the files you’ve changed since your last backup.
Select Hardware to Store Your Data
When you conduct a backup, the files will have to be stored on a physical device – such as CDs, DVDs, or USB flash drives, an external hard drive, or on the web using cloud-based online storage.
• CDs, DVDs and flash drives: These are best for storing a small amount of pictures, music, and videos.
• External hard drive: If your computer serves as the family photo album and music library, it’s best to get an external hard drive that plugs into your computer (preferably via a USB port). This way, you can assure more adequate storage space for all your files. Copying information will also be faster with these devices.
• Online backup services: If you don’t want to hassle with new hardware, there are many online backup services available, usually for a monthly fee. Some security software includes this service with your subscription, so be sure to check that you don’t already have this service available. You simply backup your files to a secure server over the Internet. These services have the added advantage of safely storing your files in a remote location and the files can be accessed anywhere you have a connection to the Internet. This can be valuable for people who travel a lot and may need to recover files or if you live in area prone to natural disasters that might require an evacuation.
Safely Store the Backup Device that Holds Your Data
After setting up the software and copying your files on a regular basis, make sure you keep your backup device somewhere safe. Some ideas include a trusted neighbor’s house, your workplace, a safe, or a secure place at home that would likely survive a natural disaster. Keep your backup device close enough so that you can retrieve it easily when you do your regular backup.
Other software programs are available for purchase if your system does not have a backup program or if you’re seeking other features. Ideally, you should backup your files at least once a week.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

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