Online & Mobile Security Starts with You

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When you think of making safe choices, what comes to mind? Looking both ways before crossing the street? Locking your doors? Not playing with matches? Online and mobile security are really no different. When you take the time to consider your surroundings before continuing, to secure your personal things, and to avoid hazardous actions, you’ll be safer and more secure—in the real world and the digital world alike.

What does “being smart” with online security look like?

When browsing….

  • Do not click unknown URLs, whether sent to you in an email or when browsing the web. There’s a lot to explore online, but you should always know where you’re going and if it is a safe place for you.
  • Look for websites with “https” rather than “http.” You’ll also be able to detect these more secure websites—websites with SSL certificates enabled, an added level of security—by seeing a green lock or green bar in your address bar. More than 40% of all websites and over 80% of the top 1,000 websites now utilize “https,” as of September 2018.  
  • Remember that “open” networks are not private. Anything you do on an open network may be discoverable by others on that network. Avoid anything that requires a login and password as well as any sort of monetary transaction on an open network.
  • Ensure your home WiFi network is secured. It will allow for greater protection and security for whatever you need to do.
  • Only password-protected WiFi networks are safe for anything that requires your login information—especially your banking accounts.

When banking or logging in to websites with important personal information…

  • Sensitive browsing should only be done on your own devices. Shared devices can make sharing information easy, even when you don’t mean to.
  • Strong passwords are essential, and it’s not as difficult as you might think
  • Strong security questions are equally important. When setting these security questions (often when you create your user ID and password), be mindful of what kind of information might be readily accessible through Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Ensure the questions you’re asking are not easily discoverable by scanning these social accounts.

When communicating…

  • Do not share sensitive information, even when someone emails you asking for this specific information. Just like someone calling you on the phone, they may be pretending to be a trusted institution when they are anything but trustworthy. If you’re unsure, close the email (or end the phone call) and connect with the institution by the number or email address you already have for them in your records. This quick “call-back” is an easy way to alleviate fears and discover scams.
  • Be thoughtful with your social shares. Sharing all of those vacation pictures while you’re still on vacation might be an invitation to your empty house for those with bad intentions, and similarly, sharing pictures or messages that include too much personal information about you and your family enables this information to be in the hands of anyone. Only share what you’re comfortable with the entire world knowing, even when you have your settings set as “private.”

When thinking about your devices…

  • Many apps share personal information from your phone, so know what you’re agreeing to when you download from the app store. The information most commonly leaked from apps includes phone numbers (63%) and location (37%). Is this what you want to sign up for?
  • Make sure your software is up-to-date. Older versions of operating systems or web browsers are often easier for hackers to exploit. The holes in their security have already been found. Patches and upgrades often fix old issues, so don’t leave yourself exposed unnecessarily.
  • Use anti-virus software. It’s easy to overlook, but this is a step that can provide an added level of protection to your computer. Many free anti-virus programs are available.
  • Don’t leave devices unattended, especially when logged in. It’s the equivalent to leaving your home’s front door unlocked.
  • Think about your behavior on your smartphone in the same way that you think about your behavior on any other device. Secured networks, safe websites, and thoughtful downloads are just as essential on mobile devices—especially when it comes to purchases, banking, or other sensitive data.

Whether you’re on a phone, tablet, or PC, you need to make sure the choices you make are safe ones. Keeping yourself protected isn’t as simple as not talking to strangers or keeping your fingers away from the hot stove-top. Good habits make all the difference, and it’s time to start those habits right now.

Call Federal Credit Union recognizes that issues of online and mobile security can be complicated, and we’re here to answer any questions you may have about your accounts. Passionately local banking means truly caring about members and that includes making sure you feel safe and secure in your online interactions. Contact us today to learn more.

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