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Cybersecurity Tips

From Wipfli CPAs and Consultants

Tip #2

Install and Update Antivirus Software

One of the top methods of computer attacks comes from malicious software (malware), to the extent that there are tens of millions of new pieces of malware each year. Malware can be transmitted to a computer from file downloads, e-mail attachments, USB thumb drives, and other removable media. To make matters worse, malware is often disguised as something safe or even helpful like antivirus software.

What can you do?

Install antivirus software. Use a product that is going to address all types of malware. A lack of anti-malware software leaves the system vulnerable to a very common and prevalent attack vector. Attackers often use malware to gain access to a system, capture key strokes, or utilize the system as part of a botnet.

Choose a reputable antivirus manufacturer (e.g., McAfee, Kaspersky, Sophos, Symantec). With this product, you get what you pay for. With each year's new batch of malware, you need a team of dedicated professionals to keep the software effective. A paid subscription is well worth it.

Next, use that subscription and keep the software AND the virus definitions/signatures up to date. Use auto-update options within the software to check at least daily for updates to both. There are some days when vendors release thousands of new definitions/signatures throughout a given day. Timing is everything if a new piece of malware is on the rampage!

Any time you use USB thumb drives (or other removable media), run a full scan on it. Often you will have such an option if you right-click on the drive letter in your explorer window. Be sure this is the first thing you do after connecting it to your system. Keep in mind that portable media like USB devices can carry all sorts of malware, so make sure, even before plugging it in, that you know where it came from.

This also holds true for e-mail. All e-mail attachments should be scanned before they are opened. Even though antivirus software may filter your e-mail before it gets delivered to you, take the extra step to scan again. You may have this option by right-clicking on the attachment, or some antivirus programs will scan as soon as you attempt to open them. Know how your version works. Either way, give it another scan.

"Which antivirus software should I use?" Want to know who the best is? Visit http://www.av-comparatives.org. They run many different types of tests against various AV vendors' software and on different types of platforms. Check it out and see what would work for you!

(Please note that if you click the link mentioned in this article you will be leaving the Security State Bank Website.  We do not make representation as to the completeness or accuracy of the information provided at the listed site.)

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Traveling Securely

Winter Holiday Traveling, for many of us, that means it’s time to get away! It’s not surprising that many cybercriminals target travelers. Luckily, with a little care, it’s possible to protect yourself and avoid potential problems.

Sharing isn’t always caring:
     Avoid publicly posting details of where and when you’ll be traveling. When you reveal these specifics, you’re providing information that could be used by criminals to target your home or your family while you’re gone. 
     Sending private posts and photos during your vacation to family and friends is OK, but if you post them publicly, you increase the risk of someone using that information for malicious activities. Also, ensure your children and friends understand the risks associated with posting your vacation plans.

Accessing public computers and Wi-Fi:
     Don’t use public computers and open wireless networks for sensitive online transactions. Wi-Fi® spots in airports, hotels, coffee shops and other public places can be convenient; however, they’re often unsecure and can leave you at risk. 
     If you’re accessing the internet through an unsecured network, you should be aware malicious individuals might be able to eavesdrop on your connection. This could allow them to steal your financial information, login credentials or other sensitive information. Any public Wi-Fi should be considered “unsecure.” 
     Consider turning off features on your computer or mobile device that allow them to automatically connect to Wi-Fi and other services such as social media websites.
     Also, consider using a cellular 3G / 4G connection as a hotspot, which is generally safer than an open Wi-Fi connection. If you do connect through your hotel’s Wi-Fi, verify the name of the Wi-Fi hotspot with a hotel staff member.

Know the law:
      Keep in mind that if you’re traveling abroad, different countries have different laws, which may allow government employees or law enforcement full access to your device without your knowledge or permission. It’s also important to know the local laws regarding online behavior, as some online behaviors, such as posting disparaging comments or pictures of illegal activity on social media websites, can be illegal.

Recommendations: Below are tips to protect your important information.

1. Use discretion when posting information online. Consider keeping your social media pages private, so only authorized individuals can visit.

2. Password protect your devices so if they’re lost or stolen, the information is protected. Also, enable device tracking.

3. Make sure your laptop and other mobile devices have the latest patches installed. Your software vendor should notify you whenever an update is available. Set your devices to automatically update.

4. Use of security software is a necessity. Some programs can also locate a missing or stolen phone, tablet or other similar device. Some devices can even back up and remotely wipe all data from them, if reported stolen.

5. Make sure you have anti-virus software installed, updated and running.

6. Don’t access sensitive accounts (for example: financial institutions, credit cards, etc.) or conduct sensitive transactions over public networks, including hotel and airport Wi-Fi and business centers or cafes. Whenever possible, use wired connections instead of Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi connections.

7. Don’t plug USB cables into public charging stations. Only connect USB-powered devices using the intended AC power adapter.

Brought to you by:  Center for Internet Security - "STOP-THINK-CONNECT"

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Verified by Visa

Shop online with greater protection! We've partnered with Visa to offer additional protection when using your debit card online. Registering with Verified by Visa lets you create your own username and password. Once activated, you'll receive a password entry page when shopping at participating Verified by Visa online merchants – so only you can use your card.

Register now at www.ssbfergus.com/verifiedbyvisa or the next time you shop at a participating online merchant.

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