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Compliance Training Blog

Security is everyone's responsibility

Mobile and Financial Security Tips for the Holiday Season

Part Two in our Holiday Security Series (Part One Here)

We are entering the season for giving and with that comes holiday shopping. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year and with this popularity attracts cyber criminals looking to capitalize off your purchases and giving spirit. But don’t give in to the scams, and maintain security best practices to ensure your security.

As millions of people gather for the holiday rush, many are unprepared to the not so obvious threats of holiday scams. Laptops, iPads, mobile devices and many other smart devices are now becoming the source of online shopping for millions around the world. What many users are not aware of are the immense amount of tools and strategies these holiday thieves use to steal from you with very sophisticated scams delivered through texts, emails, phone calls, fake websites and more.

In our first “Black Friday” blog we listed some threats and gave you important security tips to include secure web browsing, avoiding phishing scams and more. In this blog I want to provide additional suggestions, specifically around monitoring your financial accounts and mobile security:

  1. Avoid malicious apps-
    Make sure to download all applications directly from the app store, and be cautious of what apps you are downloading. Many are not secure. If you have a workplace mobile device, do not download apps on that device that are not company approved.
  2. Text messages-
    Be aware of text messages sent to your smartphone. This holiday season make sure you know who is sending you a text message. These text messages will come from a supposed “trusted source (such as your bank) and will ask for your account number and personal information to gain access. Immediately delete the message without opening it. Then call your bank at their trusted number to inquire about the message. Check out our Security Short Video on SMiShing, and spread the word about this attack to help others stay protected.
  3. Continuously monitor your bank account-
    Set up spending alerts, and regularly check your account to ensure there are not any unauthorized purchases.
  4. Change your password settings now as we enter the holidays and change them again directly after-
    Now is the time to create new passwords and security questions, and you need to change the security settings again following the holidays. Many times when organizations’ customer financial information is exposed, they recommend changing all passwords and security answers. You should just do this best practice anyway.
  5. Keep your receipts, and if you share an account, have the other individual also save receipts-
    It’s easy to overlook unauthorized charges when you are buying gifts at multiple stores, multiple values, especially if you share an account with another individual. Be sure you keep your receipts so that you notice even the slightest compromise to your account.

In conclusion, be ready this holiday season and don’t let cyber criminals get the upper hand on your information. Check out this infographic that provides a great visual for best practices:

Tips for Holiday Shopping
[Via: IdentityHawk.com identity theft] Source: http://www.identityhawk.com/cyber-monday-black-friday-shopping-identity-theft-infographic


Four Ways to Safely Shop on Black Friday

As the holiday season approaches, one shopping day sticks out in everyone’s mind: Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when stores offer amazing deals and shoppers come out in droves to find the perfect items for their holiday shopping.

Among all of the frenzy and excitement over discounts and deals, it’s easy to forget that hackers, scammers, and thieves often take advantage of the holiday to uncover credit card information, deceive shoppers, and steal information both physically and digitally.

Read on to learn how to protect yourself and your personal information this Black Friday, so that you can shop knowing that your information is secure.

1. Educate yourself.

The first step in knowing how to protect yourself from identity theft, credit card hacking, scams, or other crimes, especially on a busy holiday such as Black Friday, is to understand what to look for and what measures to take. Here are some terms to understand:

  • According to the FTC, identity theft “happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission.” This possibility can play out in various ways on Black Friday; you may be hacked and your credit card information, social security number, or other personal information may be stolen. You can also be a victim of identity theft if you voluntarily give this information to an untrustworthy website or if your credit card is physically stolen.
  • A firewall is security software that monitors information that travels over a network connection; along with anti-virus, anti-spam, and anti-spyware software, it protects your computer from hacking.
  • Phishing is a type of scam that occurs when you are prompted to respond to an email or other message by sending money or other personal information. For example, you may receive an email that you believe is from your bank, and then proceed to click the link and log in to an account that you think is yours - however, you are really logging in to a website controlled by a cyber attacker.

You can learn more about cyber security, including what to look for as well as how to protect yourself, by conducting research or enrolling in a course that offers a detailed look at the issue. Global Learning Systems offers a great option to do this through our online courses, which can be expanded to train employees of both small businesses and large corporations.

2. Avoid scams by recognizing the signs.

When shopping online, remain aware of several basic precautions:

  • Only shop on websites that you trust. To avoid falling prey to a phishing scam, do not click on links that are sent to you in emails; instead, navigate directly to the website by typing the URL into your address bar.
  • Use a secure connection. This means that when you are entering personal information such as a credit card number or PIN, only you and the website you are entering it into will be able to access that information. This will be indicated by a locked padlock in the address bar, or by the “https” that precedes the URL.
  • Be suspicious of deals that seem too good to be true, or those from companies or websites that you have not heard from before. If you feel that something is off, do some research on the company to determine its authenticity.
  • Make sure to keep your passwords and identification information secure; do not respond to emails or messages prompting you to enter or “verify” your information; you should always contact the company directly.
  • Check that your personal computer is updated with anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam software, as well as a working firewall.

3. Use credit cards.

According to The Huffington Post, in case a security breach does happen, you would rather be holding a credit card than a debit card in your hand once it comes to taking care of the issue.

If you shop using a debit card - which many shoppers do during Black Friday because of a desire to avoid overspending - and become a victim of identity theft, recovering the money that is stolen from your account is a difficult and time-consuming process, and most companies require you to report the theft within 60 days. This can be an inconvenience if you wish to purchase items or pay the rent immediately after finding out about the crime.

However, many credit card companies have policies that replace your credit immediately, such as a “zero-liability” policy.

4. Know how to protect yourself when shopping in-store.

If you do decide to venture out of your home on Black Friday to join the throngs of shoppers waiting to take advantage of the numerous in-store deals, make sure to stay aware at all times, as physical theft is just as prevalent as cyber crime.

  • Keep your credit cards and other information secure and on your person at all times.
  • Save all of your receipts in case you need to verify a purchase later.
  • Keep cash and credit cards put away unless you are paying for your items; pickpockets and thieves will take advantage of any opportunity to snatch a card while you are not looking.
  • Keep all personal electronic devices (mobile phones, tablets, etc) that you carry with you, locked and on you at all times.

How to Stay Safe on the Internet

The Internet has become such an integral part of everyone’s lives; it’s hard to imagine we ever lived without it. Most people surf the Internet in some way at least once a day. An ever-increasing number of people have begun using the Internet as a tool for making our lives easier. It’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t shopped, banked, or paid bills online. Our increased dependence on the Internet has brought with it some concerns.

We tend to take it for granted that the information we enter into websites is secure, but too often we hear about websites being hacked and people’s personal financial information being stolen and used for nefarious deeds. Everyone needs to be extra vigilant about the information we enter into cyber space in an effort to continue to reap the benefits of the Internet without falling prey to its hazards and pitfalls.

Password Mistakes

Since the advent of the Internet we’ve all heard about using passwords to assure our information is secure. It seems like a pretty simple concept. But, what makes a password secure? How can we be assured our passwords are secure enough? Many people make vital mistakes when they are creating their passwords.

First, they create a simple password that is easy to remember. The problem with that is that it is easy to figure out, too. Another common mistake is using repeating or sequential numbers or letters. Again, an experienced and knowledgeable hacker will be able to decipher those passwords as well. Further, there is password-cracking software that can easily decipher those passwords.  The third fatal mistake people make with passwords is that they use one password for every account they have. That’s a great idea for those who have a hard time remembering information. The downside is that if someone learns your password, all of your information is at risk.

Password Safety

  • Choose different passwords for all of your accounts.
  • Don’t use personal information when creating your passwords or the related security questions (i.e. birth date, maiden name, pet's name). This type of information is too easy to obtain by anyone doing a simple Internet search.
  • Create longer passwords that include a mix of numbers, upper case letters, lower case letters, and symbols. Always opt for the max amount of characters the account allows.

If you have a hard time remembering numerous passwords, write them down and put them in a secure, locked location away from your computer. Another option is to write down hints for yourself to remember your passwords so anyone who may come across the paper won’t know what it is.  It may take you an extra few minutes to dig out the paper before you go online, but the extra effort will be worth it. You can also use a password manager that will encrypt your passwords and store them online or even generate random passwords for you. Talk with your company’s security manager for recommendations on which password managers to use.

Deeper Internet Security
Passwords are just your first line of defense.
The Guardian suggests taking these steps when you’re surfing online.  

  • Free e-mail services such as gmail and Hotmail are vulnerable. Consider switching to a paid service.
  • Encrypt as much Internet data as you can.
  • Don’t forget that the websites you visit are easily track-able.  Configure your Internet browser to commercial retailers can’t track what you do online.
  • Avoid Cloud services whenever you can. If you must use them, be sure everything is encrypted.
  • Be leery of social media. If you don’t want to delete your accounts be careful of the information you share. Also, keep in mind that you can’t control what other people post about you.
  • Turn off all Bluetooth functions on your mobile devices and only use your mobile devices in public when absolutely necessary.
  • The major search engines track your history; switch to one that doesn’t.

Phishing Websites

Phishing websites can be the bane of every Internet users existence. These are pages that are set up by people for the sole intent of stealing your information. People may be directed to these pages by fraudulent emails. Be careful when opening emails and be sure you know the sender. Yahoo.com provides these telltale signs an email might be fraudulent.

  • Stay away from emails that emails that is similar to, but not quite, something familiar.
  • If an email asks for “urgent” action or looks overly generic, it is likely not legitimate.
  • Stay away from emails with links to unknown websites.

If you’re on a website and think you may have been phished, there are some things you can do right away to avoid harm.

  • Make sure the company name in the web address is correct.
  • Look for missing or incorrect letters in web addresses.
  • Watch out and don’t fall for pop-up windows. These windows are often just tools for phishing your information.
  • If you think you’re on a fake website, do not provide any information. Immediately go to your trusted website and change your password.

As long as the Internet will be a part of our lives, there will be people who try to steal our information, money, or identity. Be a smart Internet user and take precautions to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.


What is Botnet, and How do You Stay Protected?

It’s important to stay aware of recent threats to know how to prevent breaches and stay protected. In this blog, I discuss and define Botnet, a malicious software that can override your computer.

First, what is a Botnet?
As mentioned above, Botnet is the distribution of malicious software that can override your computer like a disease. When this happens, your computer can be preset to perform tasks over the Internet without you even knowing. The reason this threat become such a battle is because the immense amount of correlation from one main source that trickles down into thousands of programs.

A recent post from Bank Info Security suggests that the reason for the increased amount of cybercrime is not the attackers themselves, but the “poor internet hygiene” of computer users. Continuing on to say “because end users are not keeping software and patches on their computers and websites – such as blogs built on WordPress – up to date, cybercriminals have found devices and sites easy to compromise.” This brings up a good point because most users are not conscious that their server has been compromised and do not take seriously that malware protections are essential.

What We Know:
The most common two basic strategies to penetrate your computers defenses according to Microsoft.com are…

  1. They install malware on a computer by taking advantage of unintended vulnerabilities in its software or by breaking into accounts guarded by weak passwords.
  2. They try to trick you into installing their malware.

Here are a few tips Microsoft suggests you do to strengthen your computers defenses.

  1. Install antivirus and antispyware programs from a trusted source
  2. Keep all software up to date
  3. Use strong passwords and keep them secret
  4. Never turn off your firewall
  5. Use flash drives cautiously

For complete courses on security awareness, role-based training for IT staff and additional training, check us out here.

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