Computers and Smartphones

We’ve provided a secure method to communicate with our members; however, you need to do your part by keeping your computer and smartphone up-to-date and virus-free.

Operating Systems
Your computer’s operating system needs to be up-to-date in order to defend itself from viruses and malicious software (malware). If one part of your operating system develops a virus, it leaves holes in your PC’s security defences and compromises the safety of the information contained in your computer.

Keeping your software up-to-date is one of the most important ways of staying safe online because it’s much harder for viruses to infect an updated operating system and software. Hackers are targeting operating systems with new viruses all the time and software companies combat these efforts with security patches. You should always download the latest security patch as soon as it’s available.

Your operating system lets you know when updates are available by notifying you there are new security features to download. You can also upgrade your operating system to the latest version available from the manufacturer. You should always check your hardware’s capacity before installing an upgrade.

Remember to back up your data. To fully eliminate a virus that has infected your machine, the re-installation of your operating system may be required. Protect yourself against the permanent loss of important data by frequently backing up your files on an external hard drive so you’ll have the data should you ever have a problem with your operating system.

Anti-Virus Software
Install anti-virus software on your computer to protect your information, money, and privacy. This software detects viruses and cleans your computer so that harmful viruses do not spread. Schedule your anti-virus to run frequent scans and update the software as soon as it’s required. Ensure you have real-time scanning of every email and file you download.

Malware
Malicious software (malware), spyware, worms and Trojans are the same class of destructive viruses; just with different names. Nobody wants a computer virus. They can steal your personal information, take over your PC and use your computer to attack other people’s computers. Your PC can become infected through email attachments, downloading infected content or visiting harmful websites.  Malware is designed to gain access to a user’s computer without the owner knowing or consenting.  Examples of malware include:

  • Keylogger – software that can record users’ keystrokes and transmit user information like PACS and passwords to the fraudster
  • RootKit – software that infiltrates a computer without the owner being aware which provides the fraudster with complete control over the computer
  • Variations of the above which detect Credit Card/PAN Numbers – software that can detect when sequences of numbers, such as credit card numbers, are entered into the computer; once a card number is detected it will trigger a pop-up that asks a user to input their CVC number or password

Spyware
Spyware is exactly what it sounds like – tracking software that is downloaded to your computer (without your knowledge) when you visit certain Internet sites. Secretly, it gathers information about you and your browsing habits. This information can be trivial or it can include passwords and personal data that you wouldn’t want criminals to get their hands on. It can also interfere with user controls and disable legitimate anti-virus programs.

The best way to protect your computer against spyware is smart browsing. Stay away from sites that look unsafe and avoid streaming or downloading content from untrustworthy sources. Many anti-virus products offer targeted spyware solutions that inspect your operating system, installed programs, downloads and files.

Scareware
One of the most common viruses to watch out for is known as scareware. These scams pop-up on your screen and display warnings, telling you a virus has invaded your computer. Scareware prompts you to download (and often pay for) fake anti-virus software to remove the non-existent viruses. Scareware tries to trick you into paying money in exchange for nothing.

You can protect against scareware by keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date and by being very careful about what you choose to download to your computer. Familiarize yourself with your anti-virus program, so you won’t be fooled if one of these pop-ups appears.

Browsers
Web browsers are the gateways to the Internet. Similar to having an up-to-date operating system, upgraded browsers provide more features, stability and security. Whether you use Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or something else, stay safe online by using the latest version available.

The latest versions of web browsers have security features that can identify and block harmful and fake websites and pop-ups, and warn you if a site is flagged as unsafe. Some browsers also have a ‘Private Browsing’ feature, which conceals your browsing history from others.

We suggest you update your browser as soon as possible.

Firewalls
A firewall protects your computer and home network from harmful websites and hackers. It sits between your computer and the Internet, scanning information that’s being transmitted. It allows for safe browsing, while blocking unauthorized intrusions. Even though you may think you have no information of value on your PC, firewalls also stop your computer from being used by hackers to send malicious software to other computers.

Most computers come with a firewall as part of the standard operating system. However, you can get the maximum protection for your computer by installing additional firewalls and ensuring they are kept up-to-date.

Protecting Your Smartphone
Browsing the web has never been easier – it’s all at your fingertips. Smartphones let you surf, shop or bank wherever you are. Make sure your information stays secure while you’re on the move by following these smartphone-safe browsing tips:

  • Activate your phone’s password feature, which locks the screen and prevents anyone but you from accessing your phone. Set up the password feature on your phone with a code that only you know.
  • Don’t connect to unknown networks through Wi-Fi hotspots to make financial transactions.
  • Beware of smishing – that’s phishing on phones through text messages. Never download media or images, or click on text-message links that come from unrecognizable people or phone numbers. Never provide personal details or any account details using any form of electronic messaging because this is not a secure form of communication.
  • Download apps exclusively from the official source for your smartphone’s platform, such as the Android, Apple, or BlackBerry stores.
  • Install anti-virus software for your smartphone when available and update it frequently.
  • Install location finding applications, which work with your phone’s built-in GPS. These applications allow you to locate and/or remotely erase (or “wipe”) data in your phone if it is lost or stolen.
  • Update your smartphone’s operating system as soon as newer versions are available.
 
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