Four Tips to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Cybercriminals
- Avoid clicking on links or attachments in Emails: Cybercriminals can send out emails that look legitimate. If you were not expecting email, attachment or link, don’t automatically assume it is safe. Verify the sender’s email address before opening or clicking links.
- Be cautious when visiting and entering information on Websites: Cybercriminals are able to clone websites that are made to steal your personal information. Visit credible sites like firstwestern.bank, cdc.gov, who.int, or your state’s Health Department. Verify website addresses before visiting websites or entering personal information.
- Don’t give away your personal information over the phone: Some criminals will also try to get information over the phone. First Western Bank & Trust and other credible organizations will not call you asking for information (they already have your information).
- When donating to others, verify where you are making the donation: During a crisis, cybercriminals thrive on people’s desire to give. If you are interested in helping those in need, stick to local or national organizations you can verify.
Security is more important now than it has ever been. Below is a guide created by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that provides information on cybersecurity and how to protect and maintain your computer systems.
Protect your computer.
Install software that protects against malware, or malicious software, which can access a computer system without your consent to steal passwords or account numbers. Also, use a firewall program to prevent unauthorized access to your PC. While protection options vary, make sure the settings allow for automatic updates.
Use the strongest method available to log into financial accounts.
Use the strongest authentication offered, especially for high-risk transactions. Use passwords that are difficult to guess and keep them secret. Create “strong” user IDs and passwords for your computers, mobile devices, and online accounts by using combinations of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols that are hard to guess and then change them regularly. Although using the same password or PIN for several accounts can be tempting, doing so means a criminal who obtains one password or PIN can log in to other accounts.
Understand Internet safety features.
You can have greater confidence that a website is authentic and that it encrypts (scrambles) your information during transmission if the web address starts with “https://.” Also, ensure that you are logged out of financial accounts when you complete your transactions or walk away from the computer. To learn about additional safety steps, review your web browser’s user instructions.
Be suspicious of unsolicited e-mails asking you to click on a link, download an attachment, or provide account information.
It’s easy for cyber criminals to copy the logo of a reputable company or organization into a phishing email. When responding to a simple request, you may be installing malware. Your safest strategy is to ignore unsolicited requests, no matter how legitimate or enticing they appear.
Be careful where and how you connect to the Internet.
Only access the Internet for banking or for other activities that involve personal information using your own laptop or mobile device through a known, trusted, and secure connection. A public computer, such as at a hotel business center or public library, and free Wi-Fi networks are not necessarily secure. It can be relatively easy for cyber criminals to intercept the Internet traffic in these locations.
Be careful when using social networking sites.
Cyber criminals use social networking sites to gather details about individuals, such as their place or date of birth, a pet’s name, their mother’s maiden name, and other information that can help them figure out passwords — or how to reset them. Don’t share your ‘page’ or access to your information with anyone you don’t know and trust. Cyber criminals may pretend to be your ‘friend’ to convince you to send money or divulge personal information.
Take precautions with your tablet or smartphone.
Consider opting for automatic updates for your device’s operating system and “apps” (applications) when they become available to help reduce your vulnerability to software problems. Never leave your mobile device unattended and use a password or other security feature to restrict access in case your device is lost or stolen. Make sure you enable the “time-out” or “autolock” feature that secures your mobile device when it is left unused for a certain period of time. Research any app before downloading it. Consult your financial institution’s website to confirm where to download its official mobile application.
For additional information from the FDIC, check out their latest Cyber Security Guide.