Cyber Security Awareness

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

No such thing as too much security when it comes to online

Michael Barry GCEFCU Security Officer

Michael Barry
GCEFCU Security Officer

“Why do we have to have all those security questions and passwords on our accounts?” A question we get asked all the time. “It’s so time consuming and we have so many passwords to remember.” Yes, we know. “What’s the big deal?”

Well, you may think it’s all a hassle… until you get hacked. If you aren’t utilizing all the security features available and don’t keep your anti-virus software up to date, then you may be a prime target for attackers. And these “hackers” may not be in some foreign country across the world. They might be as close as a next door neighbor, or even a relative.

How many of you have a wireless network at home that isn’t password protected? Not sure? I bet your neighbors know. It’s so easy for someone to drive by and see what wireless signals that can be picked up and accessed. Check with your Internet Service Provider to make sure that your internet router is password protected so hackers can’t tap into your home network and access your personal files.

So your internet is secure, now what? Do you have an antivirus program on your desktop or laptop? And more importantly, is it up to date? Hackers can put all sorts of Trojans and viruses on your computer to capture data while you are typing and send it to a third party. Make sure you have an anti-virus program and malware program that can prevent, detect and eliminate any threats. Don’t have money to buy a program? Search online, there are many free anti-virus programs and malware programs available.

So, internet secure, anti-virus program up and running, what’s next? What about your passwords? Are those secure? Make sure you aren’t using easily identifiable information (birthdays, anniversaries, pets name, the word “password”) These passwords are the first guessed, along with any other information you may have in a public profile on a social website account. Choose phrases that don’t go together, like “dog sleep loud date.” Add spaces, uppercase letters and special characters. Secure, for example could become “S3cuR3.” Pick a long phrase and choose the first letter of every word. The cow jumped over the moon and the dish ran away with the spoon could become a password of “Tcj0tmatDrawtS.” Change passwords regularly and don’t increment the last character or number by 1. I know that’s easy to do, but if it’s easy for you, it’s easy for a hacker.

Setup login notifications. Did you know that the credit union can alert you to over 15 different events? (And that’s just events, by the way, I didn’t include account specific alerts or reminders) We can tell you if your account has been locked out, your PIN changed, you logged in outside the US, a specific state, city or even if you log in from another IP Address. Check out all the alerts we can send you through text, email and secure messages from online banking. After logging in, choose Accounts, then Account Alerts from the drop down menu. Perhaps you want to create an alternate login for your account, so you aren’t typing in your member number. You can do that by selecting Member Info under Options. Want to change your authentication questions, maybe create your own? Try Options, then Authentication Questions.

Some other easy things to remember… don’t share your password… to anyone, kids included. I know we all think our kids can do no harm, but it turns out a lot of fraud is initiated by someone you know. Be very careful when using Internet cafes or public internet access. None of that is secure, and if you start logging into your account, someone could easily be “watching” everything you do. If you must use one of these free internet services (hotel, airport, restaurants) don’t do anything you wouldn’t want someone else to see. Make sure you log out of any account you are logged into and close all your browser windows. Don’t have your browser remember any account passwords for you. It may be easy for you, but it’s also easy for anyone that may get a hold of your laptop, tablet or desktop.

With so many new technologies available, security is something that we should all be concerned with. I don’t want to scare you away from anything, but you should always make sure you are staying up to date with security and using any security features that are available to you. If you would like help setting up additional security on your online credit union account, give us a call, we’d be happy to help!