SECURITY NEWSLETTERS from Merchants Information Solutions, providers of our ID Theft Recovery and Credit Monitoring services:
We are here to help our members reach their financial goals. Through the information you find on this page, we also want to help you and your family do the following:
OnGuardOnline.gov - Features a series of VIDEOS and information from the federal government and the technology industry to help you stay on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.
For additional information, visit these Web sites:
lookstoogoodtobetrue.com for general fraud information.
Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ - a ton of information to help you protect yourself from Identity Theft.
Here is some useful information to help make your home computer more secure. The key to maintaining a secure computer or network is to use multiple layers of security. To most people, the following information may seem pretty technical; however, if you want to be as secure as possible on the Internet, you need to be aware of these concepts.
Home users can buy “firewalls” (software or hardware variety) and use them with relative ease. Windows Firewall is already installed on the newer versions of Windows and actually comes “turned on” as a default setting. If you wanted to look at a free software firewall for your home computer, one option is called Zone Alarm. Search for it, install it, and it will begin to immediately secure your computer. There are also hardware versions of firewalls, but they are more complicated to use. The Internet is a risky place which contains malware (malicious software), viruses, phishing, and many more threats created by people whose goal is to either cause mischief or steal whatever they can from you — your identity, your money, etc. A firewall helps block a lot of these threats and creates a more secure environment for your computers.
Home users can purchase anti-virus programs or find free options online. Whatever option you choose, you need this layer of protection. An anti-virus program scans your computer periodically looking for signs that you have a file on your computer doing “bad things”. Anti-Virus works really well AS LONG AS YOU KEEP IT UPDATED. New viruses are created daily by the bad guys out there. Programs are actually available free online to help anyone learn to create virus programs. Some people create them for fun, while many others use viruses to try and gain control of your computer, learn your passwords, and more. Keep your ANTI-VIRUS FILES UPDATED REGULARLY as one layer of security.
It is as important that you apply software updates to your operating system (Windows, etc.), your web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.), and other software as it is to keep your anti-virus files updated. Security holes are constantly discovered in software, and software companies feverishly try to repair them with patches and updates (replacement software that makes the program more secure). To update your Windows computer at home, open up the Windows CONTROL PANEL and look for WINDOWS UPDATE. Run it, let it do its thing, and create a more secure computing experience for you and your family. Most programs have optional settings you can select to AUTOMATICALLY UPDATE the program without your intervention.
This is the most complex option for a home user. But if you want to make your Internet connection really secure, this option acts like an alarm system that alerts you immediately when someone tries to break into your computer over the Internet. You can buy this type of protection for your home computer or network, but for most people it would probably be too complex to use. If you use a wireless network at home, search online for “Securing a Wireless Network” for some simple tips that can drastically increase your protection.
Lastly, be smart. The bad guys are tricksters and are very clever at getting you to click on links in emails or on web pages, or give information out online. Just stop, and think about what you are doing. When you purchase something online or you use Online Banking, check for a web address that starts with “https”. Also, look for an icon in Internet Explorer or other browser program that looks like a closed padlock, as shown here. If you do not see both of these, do not proceed with the transaction. It probably means you are not on the legitimate web site.
This can seem like a major pain, but a complex non-dictionary password containing a mix of at least 8 letters (ABC abc) + numbers (1 2 3) + special characters ( # $ % * ! } [ ) can take the fastest computer on earth years to crack. The more characters there are in your password, the harder it is for someone to crack it! To help remember a more complex password, pick your favorite song lyrics, line of a poem, or a phrase that you can remember, and use the first letter of each word, and put one or more numbers somewhere, and at least one special character. Use some upper case (capital) and some lower case letters.
For example, using a line from our national anthem = “O say Can you See by The dawn’s Early light”, use the first letter of each word (some upper case and some lower case letters), toss in some numbers, plus one special keyboard character, and your easy-to-remember password might be the following: OsCySbTdEl1776! But don’t tell anyone what it is and don’t write it down where someone can find it.