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Online Security Tips

Online services offer customers a convenient way to do business. But it can also expose users to an increased risk of fraud. Financial “cybercrime” is an increasingly prevalent problem around the world, and it results in millions of dollars in business losses each year in the United States alone.

Common Vehicles for Fraud

  • “Social engineering” is an attempt by an untrustworthy person impersonating a trustworthy entity to manipulate you into performing actions or divulging confidential information. Social engineering can occur via email (phishing), text message, phone calls and even web browser pop-up windows.
  • “Malware” is malicious software that gets installed on your computer without your consent through email attachments, links within emails, infected documents, and visits to compromised websites or social media sites. Once there, it can record keystrokes, re-direct your browser, display fake websites or perform transactions even without displaying web pages to the user, all in an effort to impersonate you or your business in online banking transactions.

Reducing Your Risk

Do not allow your browser or other password tool to store and automatically populate your password on your banking websites. Passwords stored in tools that automatically populate fields on websites could allow a malicious user to recover your password.

  • Use long passwords of 15 or more characters, if allowed.
  • Do not write down or share your password or security question with anyone.
  • Use distinct passwords for each application or website you access. This will help mitigate the potential for all of the systems you access from becoming compromised if the password for a single site or application is disclosed.
  • Protect your answers to security questions. Select questions and provide answers that are easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess. Avoid choosing questions for which the answer can be discerned via social networking sites or public websites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Avoid using the same questions on your online banking account that you would use on other sites. Please note: Northwest FCS will never ask you to provide answers to your security questions via email, phone, text message, etc.

Securing Your Computer

  • Install and maintain antivirus and firewall software on all computers and mobile devices.
  • Ensure your antivirus software is updated on a regular basis. Most antivirus software can be configured to automatically update on a weekly or daily basis – and even more frequently.
  • Run a full or comprehensive antivirus scan on a regular basis. Full or comprehensive scans may detect viruses or other malware that are missed by real-time scanning.
  • Set your computer to automatically install operating system and software updates and patches. A fully updated and patched system is less susceptible to becoming infected with malware.
  • Take note of unusual behavior, slowness, pop-up windows, etc. or other unexpected changes. If these are noted, have a comprehensive scan run against the computer with fully updated antivirus software. Do not access sensitive systems, websites or other applications until the computer has been verified to be safe.
  • Do not access your computer with an Administrator (Admin) or Power User level account for daily use. Computers being run with general user level permissions are less susceptible to becoming infected with viruses, Trojans or other malware.
  • Set your browser to a higher level of security.

Securing Your Mobile Device

  • Make sure your smartphone, tablet and other mobile devices are password protected.
  • Download antivirus protection for your phone, tablet, e-reader or any other device that has mobile access to the Internet.
  • Do not use public computers to access your online banking account or other sites that have sensitive information.
  • Never disclose via text message, phone call or email your personal or financial information, including account numbers, passwords, Social Security number or birth date. When in doubt, call the vendor or organization using a number on file or online website to verify the request.
  • Do not click on links or open attachments in emails, text messages, etc. from unknown sources or from known sources if the message contains odd, demanding or other language that could indicate the message has been falsified.
  • Be wary of odd, strangely worded or unexpected emails from friends and acquaintances. This may indicate that their email has been compromised.
  • Do not share confidential information through email, websites, social media, phone calls, etc.

Online Banking Security

  • Do not use public computers to access your online banking account.
  • Avoid accessing your bank accounts at Internet cafes or from public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Reconcile your financial transactions on a regular basis and, if possible, daily.