Category: Cyber-Security

Staying Safe Online – January 1, 2020

Messaging/smishing attacks
One of the most common ways cyber attackers attempt to trick or fool people is by scamming you in email attacks (often called phishing) or try to trick you with phone calls. However, as technology continues to advance bad guys are always trying new methods, to include tricking you with messaging technologies such as text messaging, iMessage/Facetime, WhatsApp, Slack or Skype. Here are some simple steps to protect yourself and spot/stop these common attacks.
What are messaging attacks? Messaging attacks (sometimes called Smishing, a play on the word Phishing) are when cyber attackers use SMS, texting or messaging technologies to reach out to you and try to trick you into taking an action you should not take. Perhaps they want to fool you into clicking on a malicious link, or get you to call a phone number so they can get your banking information.
Just like in traditional phishing email attacks, bad guys often play on your emotions to act. However, what makes messaging attacks so dangerous is that they often feel far more informal or personal than email, making it more likely you may fall victim.
In addition, with messaging attacks there is less information and fewer clues for you to pick up on that something is wrong or suspicious. When you receive a message that seems odd or suspicious, start by asking yourself does this message make sense, why am I receiving it? Here are some of the most common clues of an attack:
A tremendous sense of urgency, when someone is attempting to rush you into taking an action.
Is this message asking for personal information, passwords or other sensitive information they should not have access to?
Does the message sound too good to be true? No, you did not win the lottery, especially one you never entered.
A message that appears to come from a co-worker or friend’s account or phone number, but the wording does not sound like them. Their account may have been compromised and taken over by an attacker, or the attacker is pretending to be them, tricking you into taking action.
If you get a message that makes you have a strong reaction, wait a moment and give yourself a chance to calm yourself and think it through before you respond. For example, if you get a text message from your bank saying there is a problem with your bank account or credit card, contact your bank or credit card company directly by phone. Bear in mind that most government agencies, such as tax or law enforcement agencies, won’t contact you via text message.
When it comes to messaging attacks, you are your own best defense.

Staying Safe Online – December 4, 2019

‘Tis the season for ‘open enrollment’ scams
Winter is coming, which means open enrollment season is here. With 2020 just around the corner, now’s the time to add or change your health coverage through Medicare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). You have until December 7 (Medicare) or December 15 (ACA) to make any changes. As you compare your options, watch out for scams. Here are some tips to protect your wallet and your personal information this open enrollment season.
Eligible for Medicare?
• Anyone who tries to sell you Medicare insurance while claiming to be an “official Medicare agent” is a scammer. There are no Medicare sales representatives.
• Ignore anyone who says you must join a prescription drug plan to keep your Medicare coverage. The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is voluntary and has nothing to do with the rest of your Medicare coverage.
• Never give information over the phone to someone who says they need it so you can keep your coverage. Hang up on anyone who asks for a quick payment, threatens you, or offers you free equipment or services in exchange for your information.
• If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to
Looking for coverage under the Affordable Care Act?
• Get information, compare plans, and enroll at Check out the new Quality Ratings to see how plans compare to others in your state, based on member experience, medical care, and health plan administration.
• Starting this year, you can also sign up for a plan directly through several certified partners Make sure the company is on the approved list before giving them your information.
Need help? Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to ask a question, start or finish an application, compare plans, or enroll. If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at If the scam is Medicare related, report it at 1-800-MEDICARE. The more we hear from you, the more we can help fight scams.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

Staying Safe Online – November 6, 2019

When will scammers stop?
“Hello this is Microsoft, we got an alert that your computer is at risk of attack and needs to be updated …” Most of us would have just hung up by now. What if they said they were the IRS, or even distant relatives? What if they know your name or your family’s name?
Scammers are very resourceful and creative. They will do their best to convince you to part with your data or funds until the end of time. It’s in our best interest to stay informed about the current popular scams going around. They may come in the form of an email or phone call asking you to do something, send something, say something, etc. While most of these requests appear legitimate on the surface, it’s important to make sure. Is this how you would normally expect to receive this request? Some of these requests, such as those for technical support, would be made by you rather than someone else.
Microsoft is not calling people offering to install updates for free. The IRS will always make initial contact with you via postal mail, never demanding payment of a tax bill over the phone or via email. Recent examples include:
Scammers use dating sites to build trust and ask for money ( romancescams)
Scammers pose as Microsoft technical support, tricking victims into giving them access (
Scammers target the elderly (
What can you do?
Determine another method of contact (e.g., cell phone number or alternate email address) that is publicly available.
Check your computer and mobile devices regularly for malware.
Check for suspicious charges to your credit card. Question charges that do not correspond to products or services you purchased.
Don’t trust caller ID or email addresses. These can be spoofed, so it’s important to have another way to verify someone communicating with you. Callbacks are appropriate if you have a number for contacting them that was not provided to you from the scammer.
Be aware of scams that target the elderly, and make sure to check in with older friends and family.
PRO-TIP: If you weren’t expecting to receive an email or phone call, don’t answer it! Never trust the identity of somebody contacting you when you weren’t expecting them. Always turn to another source of verification by contacting someone through their published phone number or mailing address, and remember, caller ID and email addresses can be spoofed and are NOT a method of verification.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

Staying Safe Online – October 30, 2019

What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:• Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter• SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through devices• Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messagingfeatures)• Email
Special Concerns – With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online -both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content- creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved, not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it.
Cyberbullying has unique concerns in that it can be:
Persistent- Digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult for children experiencing cyberbullying to find relief.
Permanent – Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.
Hard to Notice – Because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.
Laws and Sanctions – Although all states have laws requiring schools to respond to bullying, many states do not include cyberbullying under these laws or specify the role schools should play in responding to bullying that takes place outside of school. Schools may take action either as required by law, or with local or school policies that allow them to discipline or take other action. Some states also have provisions to address bullying if it affects school performance.
Frequency of Cyberbullying – There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:• The 2017 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text.• The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust

Staying Safe Online – October 23, 2019

Telemarketing Fraud
When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud .
Here are some warning signs of telemarketing fraud-what a caller may tell you:“You must act ‘now’ or the offer won’t be good.”“You’ve won a ‘free’ gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.“You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.“You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.“You don’t need any written information about the company or their references.”“You can’t afford to miss this ‘high-profit, no-risk’ offer.”If you hear these or similar “lines” from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you” and hang up the telephone.
Tips for Avoiding Telemarketing Fraud:
It is very difficult to get your money back if you have been cheated over the telephone. Before you buy anything by telephone, remember:
Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.
Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But beware-not everything written down is true.
Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. However, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers-verify the accuracy of these items.
Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment. Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question: “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”
Don’t pay in advance for services; pay only after they are delivered.
Be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are-the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.
Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. It is never rude to wait and think about an offer.
Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.
Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
Be aware that your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.
If you have been victimized once, be wary of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.
If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.
A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Cedar Valley Bank & Trust


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