Protecting Your Accounts from Phishing, Viruses and Malware
What is Cybersecurity? It involves precautionary measures taken to protect yourself against criminal or unauthorized use of your electronic data. Cybercrime occurs when someone breaks into your computer or another electronic device that is not protected.
Cybersecurity is a big deal. Our technology only protects us from malicious software that it can detect. The hackers continuously create new malware to infiltrate our computers, phones and tablets and trick us into doing things that put our private information at risk.
Why is Cybersecurity Important?
Hackers can take advantage of weaknesses in your computer, phone or tablet or may trick you to click on links in e-mails, open attachments in e-mails or do a number of other things that result in the download of malicious software onto your computer:
- They might install a keystroke logger to steal usernames and passwords to websites you visit, which may allow them to log in as you to take over your account. They could then change your address, authorize payments from your account or line of credit advances to themselves or other people, or order replacement debit cards which will be mailed to the “new” address. Keystroke loggers allow them to steal all information you enter into your computer, including your social security number, date of birth and other confidential information that could be used to steal your identity.
- They might steal copies of essential documents from your computer, phone or tablet and use this information to identity where you have accounts and take over those accounts.
- They might load ransomware on your computer, phone or tablet and lock it so you cannot access it unless you pay a ransom to unlock it.
- They might send you an e-mail supposedly from a friend, work colleague or company you do business with and ask you to click on a link or open an attachment. This carries two risks:
- Clicking on the link or opening the attachment may download the malicious software that can then lead to any of the harmful actions identified above.
- You may be directed to a fake website that looks like a website you frequently visit and asked to enter your username and password, or you may be asked to update your credit or debit card information. This will allow them to take over your account or make purchases with your debit or credit card.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime
- Always promptly update the operating system on your computer, phone and tablet as soon as an update becomes available. These updates often include security updates to patch known vulnerabilities.
- Always update any applications you use as soon as they become available as hackers will try to exploit known vulnerabilities in the applications on your computer, phone and tablet. This includes internet browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome and others.
- Use reputable antivirus software and set it to update and perform scans at regular intervals automatically. Keep in mind that antivirus software and scans are not foolproof as it only detects known viruses. Hackers create new viruses faster than the antivirus companies can identify them.
- Make sure your computer has a firewall to keep out unwanted internet traffic and make sure it is appropriately configured. Firewalls do not protect you if you click on links and attachments in e-mails since you are telling the firewall you trust the source of the link or attachment.
- Don’t click on links from people or businesses you don’t know.
- Never call the phone number provided in a suspicious e-mail to contact the sender to verify the legitimacy of the e-mail. Contact them at a number found on their website, on your account statement or the back of your credit or debit card.
- If you receive an e-mail from a person or business you know that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, ask yourself if this is the type of e-mail that person or company would typically send you. If at all suspicious, contact that person or business in another way to verify that they sent you the e-mail.
- Do not insert USB/flash/thumb drives into your computer unless you know where they came from as these may contain malware. Even drives from a friend or family member may have malicious software if your friend or family member’s computer is infected.
- Do not use simple login passwords and do not use the same password for multiple websites. If your account at one of the websites you do business with is compromised, the hackers may try to log in to other common sites (Amazon, e-bay, other credit unions, banks or major credit card companies) using that password. The chances of someone using the compromised password to access other accounts with that same password are higher if you use an e-mail address as your user/login ID.
- Avoid questionable websites and only download software from sites you trust.
- Do not enter sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or online banking login credentials into your device when accessing a website through public wifi as public wifi is not secure.
What Should you do if You Think Your Account has Been Compromised
- Contact the business where the account is located and advise them of what happened so they can recommend steps to minimize the damage.
- Place a password on your account.
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).
- If the information that could be used to steal your identity was compromised, contact one of the three credit reporting agencies and consider putting a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report to minimize the chances of someone opening accounts in your name.
Here at Members Credit Union, we want our members to understand and be educated on Cybersecurity as Cybercrime is happening every day. We encourage you to take this seriously since you are the first line of defense in protecting your account and identity. Please take advantage of the information provided in the links below and call your local Members CU branch if you have any questions or concerns.