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Keep up on the latest topics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the agency's quarterly newsletter, FDIC Consumer News.
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This quarter's newsletter addresses the increasing reliance on computers and the Internet for everything from shopping and communicating to banking and bill paying. While the benefits of faster and more convenient "cyber" services are clear, the strategies for preventing online fraud and theft may not be as well-known by many bank customers. That is why the FDIC has produced a special edition of the agency's quarterly FDIC Consumer News (Winter 2016) entitled "A Bank Customer's Guide to Cybersecurity.
Here is a list of best practices to follow when accessing websites that contain personal and financial information.
PROTECT COMPUTERS AND NETWORKS by installing security and antivirus software that protects against malware or other malicious software. Use a firewall program to prevent unauthorized access. Be sure to regularly update to the latest version of your security software or better yet, make sure your settings allow for automatic updates.
USE THE STRONGEST METHOD AVAILABLE to log into financial accounts. Use the strongest authentication offered and always protect your password. Create strong user IDs and passwords for all of your devices by using combinations of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols that are hard to guess. Change them regularly and do not give into the temptation to use the same password for all accounts and devices.
UNDERSTAND INTERNET SAFETY FEATURES. Look for the “s” in websites that claim to be secure. Websites that begin with “https” indicate the use of encryption software as a security feature. Always log out of financial accounts when you complete your transaction or walk away from the computer.
BE SUSPICIOUS OF UNSOLICITED E-MAILS asking you to click on a link, download an attachment or provide account or other personal information. Your safest strategy is to ignore unsolicited requests, no matter how legitimate or enticing they may appear.
BE CAREFUL WHERE AND HOW YOU CONNECT TO THE INTERNET. Use only your own laptop or mobile device to access bank accounts or other sites containing personal information through a known, trusted and secure connection. Public computers found at hotel business centers or public libraries as well as free Wi-Fi networks are not always secure.
BE CAREFUL WHEN USING SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES. Cyber criminals use social networking sites to gather information about individuals such as pets' names, date of birth, mother's maiden name, etc. to help them figure out passwords or how to reset them. They may also pretend to be your “friend” to convince you to send them money or divulge personal information.
BUSINESSES SHOULD FOLLOW THESE SAME PRACTICES. Teach employees the basics and establish security policies for employees to follow that include setting strong passwords as well as not sharing them. Set expectations and consequences for policy violations.
CONTROL ACCESS TO DATA AND COMPUTERS. Limit Internet usage to business purposes only. Allow Internet access to only those employees that need it to perform their jobs. Consider implementing multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain access. Check with vendors that handle sensitive data to see if they offer multifactor authentication to access systems or accounts.
BACKUP YOUR SYSTEMS AND DATA. Regularly backup the data from your computers used by your business. It is important to backup sensitive business data to a storage device at secondary location that is secure.
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS and watch for unauthorized withdrawals. Implement additional controls such as confirmation phone calls before financial transfers are authorized with your bank. Know with whom you are doing business.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO BUSINESS OWNERS: Businesses are generally not covered by federal consumer protections against unauthorized electronic funds transfers; therefore, your financial institution may not be responsible for reimbursing losses associated with theft if negligence on the part of your business, such as unsecured computers or falling for common scams, were factors in the loss.
BE PROACTIVE. Put controls in place to protect your business.
Information source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.