Image of a lock, credit cards, wallet and keyboard

Cybercrime and Security

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, so we have decided to make our customers aware of what cyber security is and why it’s so important. To understand cyber security, one must have an understanding what you are securing and why.

Cybercrime consists of any type of criminal activity that involves a computer, an electronic networked device, or even a network. There are 3 primary types of cybercrimes: targeting, denial-of-service attack, and breaches.

Targeting crimes requires the criminal to target a singular computer or device as a means to gain access to larger network. A larger network doesn’t necessarily mean a company or corporation but could be a large network of people such as social media platforms or dating websites. In a denial-of-service or DoS attacks, the criminal uses the computer or device into a weapon to gain the upper hand. A common example would be ransomware attacks; where a criminal or organization holds information, on the victim’s computer or device, hostage until demands are met. The term breaches a very vast category that includes a lot of different elements in which a criminal or organization gains illegal access to confidential information through one or more means. Criminals can use one all 3 of these categories to obtain information.

On the flip side of that is cyber security. Just like your home security system protects your home through a system of networks and processes; cyber security uses a different type of networks and processes to secure your private network.

 

So how can you maintain your cybersecurity?

 

  1. Keep your firewall turned on. Your firewall is your device’s first line of defense and helps protect your computer from hackers.
  2. Install and update your virus protection and spyware protection software. Antivirus programs are designed to keep your computer healthy and prevent malicious software from being downloaded and embedded into your computer. Antispyware technology blocks ads, websites and programs that allow bots and spyware programs to collect information on you without your knowledge. Also, be aware that ads offering downloadable spyware is often spyware in sheep’s clothing. Remember, if you don’t know what it is, close it immediately and don’t interact with it.
  1. Keep your system up to date. By maintain your computer or device and updating regularly, most operating systems can close security gaps.
  1. Know where you. Only go to site you know are real websites. Look for the secured lock to the left of the web address, like this. If a website does not secured connection, there is opportunity for anyone to eavesdrop on anything you send to that server including your personal information.
  1. Know what you’re downloading. Don’t download any email attachments you don’t know who they are from. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and able to scan emails and email attachments. If the email looks like it is from a reputable place, be sure to review the email address. Many phishing scams start with an email that contains all the right logos but still looks off.
  1. Turn off your computer. Leaving your computer turned on all the time may be convenient but what’s convenient for you is also convenient for others. Not only does this allow for spyware and bots to view information on your computer, it also allows for others to physically go onto your device and pull information that may be sensitive and/or compromising.
  1. Be vigilant. The best way to safeguard yourself is to stay vigilant. Utilizing these techniques coupled with identity monitoring and credit monitoring won’t prevent cyber crime but they will help you to be better protected from cyber crime and maintain your cyber security.

 

Automatic can also make you lazy. As a society, we get lots of notifications; app notification, social medial notification, update notifications, email notification, etc. We get so many of notifications that we become numb to them and swipe them off the screen without a thought. This can be problematic and costly. For example, if you have a payment that fluctuates monthly and this month the payment is significantly higher than normal. If you risk over drawing your account. By staying disciplined in reviewing payment dates and amounts, you will be able to adjust and prepare yourself accordingly.

No money can mean paying more money. Should your account become overdrawn due to an error with your payment, you are subjecting yourself to late fees and overdraft fees from both your financial institution and your creditor’s.

Saving time doesn’t always save you time and money. Technology glitches occur all the time. So, what happens if your automatic payment is drafted multiple times or there is a mistake in billing, and you’re charged for 6 months instead of 1? These types of technological faux pas do occur, and they can have a waterfall impact on your other creditors. You can spend hours trying to unravel the mess and days getting your money refunded. Not to mention, you risk additional late fees or overdraft fees from other creditors. Stop payment plans are harder to establish in a timely fashion with automatic payments.

The risk of your personal information becoming compromised is greater. Data breaches are still an occurrence and any institution that houses sensitive customer data is susceptible to a data breach no matter how much they beef up their security. Your creditors having more minimal information does reduce your level of exposure but having automatic payments set up can also have the opposite effect and magnify your risk.

Automatic payments are a great way to stay on top of creditors and boosting your credit score. They are virtually painless and can even be done through your bank, saving you both time and money but when abused or neglected the opposite effect can occur. Finding that perfect balance of discipline and knowing your budget is key. Automatic payments for things that fluctuate heavily such as utilities bills are not recommended as much as those that remain consistent month after month such as insurance payments and gym memberships. Staying in the know on your finances is the best practice to keeping yourself and your credit score better protected.

 

Resources

 

FBI.gov

Cybercrime Definition

Here Are the Biggest Cybercrime Trends of 2019