At Highlands Community Bank, the safety of our customers’ money and identity is our top priority. We are committed to being a bank that the community can trust, so security isn’t something we take lightly. You can never be too careful, and now with the holidays around the corner, we are on high alert for any suspicious activity. The holiday season to many is “the most wonderful time of the year,”…especially cybercriminals. Between spending time with loved ones, relaxing, and the festivities, it’s easy to get wrapped up in it all and accidentally let your guard down. So here are some helpful cybersecurity tips to safeguard your funds and sensitive information.
How to Protect Yourself From Cybersecurity Threats
Secure Your Digital Devices
Where would we be without all our precious devices? We use them in our daily lives for just about everything. You can shop, check your finances, send and receive emails, and more all from your PCs, tablets, and smartphones now. That being said, there’s a lot of personal information stored on these devices, which is why it’s imperative to install software that protects against malicious software (a.k.a. malware). Malware can access your screens without your consent or knowledge to steal your account numbers or passwords. So we recommend downloading a protection plan such as Norton or McAfee. Additionally, you should use a firewall program like Avast to prevent unauthorized access to your devices. Be sure to adjust your settings to allow for automatic updates.
Stick With the Strongest Login Methods
You should use the strongest available login options for all your accounts, as well as authentication. This means using user IDs and passwords that are hard to guess (no birthdays or pets’ names) and keeping them private. The FDIC recommends using a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols and then changing them regularly. Also, remember to create separate passwords, usernames, and PINs for each of your accounts. If you were to use the same login for multiple accounts and a cybercriminal cracked the code, they’d essentially have a “master key” to access your personal information.
Steer Clear of Suspicious Messages
Have you ever received unsolicited social media messages, e-mails, or texts that prompted you to click on a link, download a file, or share information? This is one of the most common ways cybercriminals do their dirty work…or rather, they get you to do it unknowingly. Upon responding to their request, you could possibly be downloading malware. So your best bet when you receive these types of messages is to ignore and report these messages, then block the sender.
Be Careful When Connecting to the Internet
It’s important that you access the Internet wisely. For example, if you need to do something that involves your personal information (i.e. checking your banking), you should only use your own personal device through a known, trusted, and secure connection. Public Wi-Fi networks and computers (such as those at a public library) aren’t necessarily secure, meaning it could be easy for cybercriminals to intercept Internet traffic and steal your information.
Stay Safe When Social Networking
Oftentimes, cybercriminals turn to social media platforms to gather personal details about individuals (your hometown or mother’s maiden name) that could help them figure out how to crack your account or reset them. So be careful with what you post online, and don’t share your pages with anyone you don’t know and trust. Many cyber criminals may pose as a friend to view your information or convince you to send money.
How to Protect Your Business From Cybersecurity Threats
Require Two-Factor Authentication
Whoever first said that old saying, “There’s strength in numbers,” had the right idea. Two-factor authentication or 2FA provides a second layer of protection for your business accounts and devices beyond just a username and password. 2FA requires users to provide an additional form of identification like a fingerprint or a pin to verify their identity before they’re granted access.
Teach Employees the Basics
Every business should build a “security mindset” among their staff, meaning that you should encourage everybody to stay alert and teach them how to identify red flags such as insecure passwords and phishing emails. Providing a cybersecurity training session could prevent your business’s sensitive information from becoming compromised! CISA offers a free training program that could be helpful.
Patch Software Whenever Possible
Patches are software and operating system updates that identify and immediately fix security vulnerabilities and eliminate bugs. They can help your organization reduce its security risk and continue running smoothly.
Make Backup Copies of Important Systems and Data
In the event of a cyberattack, a backup copy could save your business. A backup copy is a copy of data that can be restored from an earlier point in time, which would help your business recover from the data failure. You should store the backup copy on a separate medium like a USB drive or cloud storage to prevent primary data loss.
Watch Out for Fraudulent Transactions
Be sure to have separate bank accounts and cards for your business and personal life, and keep them all secure. If you plan to share these cards with your employees, ensure that the card provider offers suitable fraud protection.
Tips to Prevent Banking Cyber-Attacks
It’s crucial to prioritize your mobile banking security! Protecting your money from cybersecurity threats is easier than you may think.
Log Out When Your Session is Complete
Whenever you finish working within your banking app, you should log out before closing the app. It may be tempting to stay logged in all the time, but this would make you more susceptible to cyber-attacks.
Report a Lost or Stolen Device
If your phone is lost or stolen, please contact your financial institution immediately to update your information. You could also log in to your online banking profile and remove the old device.
Don’t Root or Jailbreak Your Devices
This may be tempting to do to improve your device’s functionality, but this actually removes security measures built into your device, increasing your risk of getting hacked.
Download Banking Apps From Reputable Sources
Only install banking apps from reputable sources such as Apple® App Store, Google™ Play, or a direct link from your financial institution’s website. Hackers often create apps that look like official apps which are actually malware or viruses that can infect your devices and steal your data.
Delete Security Code and Alerts
After you receive security codes and message alerts from your bank, you should delete them to prevent any potential hackers from accessing your account.
We hope you have a safe, happy holiday season!
Want More Banking Tips? Feel Free to Contact Us!
Our team at Highlands Community Bank is always here to help. Call us any time, or visit one of our locations in Covington, Clifton Forge, or Hot Springs.