Internet Safety Tips

1. Virus Updates - Update your virus protection software regularly, or when a new virus alert is announced. If your virus protection software does not cover malware, also use an anti-malware software to protect your computer. Computer viruses can have a variety of damaging effects, including introducing program code that causes your computer to send out files or other stored information. Be on the alert for security repairs and patches that you can download from your operating system's web site.

2. Security Patches - Install security patches when issued by the software (operating system and browser) vendor. Some applications have the ability to alert you when updates are available for download.

3. Firewall Protection - Use a firewall program, especially if you use a highspeed Internet connection like cable, DSL or T-1, which leaves your computer connected to the Internet 24 hours a day. The firewall program will allow you to stop uninvited guests from accessing your computer. Without it, hackers can take over your computer and access your personal information stored on it or use it to commit other crimes.

4. Use a Secure Browser - Software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet - to guard the security of your online transactions. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer. You also can download some browsers for free over the Internet. When submitting information online, there are two ways to see if you are on a secured web site:

  • Look for the padlock in the lower right (Internet Explorer) or left (Netscape) corner of your browser window;
  • Look in the address window above, the letters https:// should appear in front of the address of the form screen (instead of the non-secure http:// address).

5. Disconnect Internet - Shut off or disconnect your computer from the Internet when not in use.

6. Logout - Always log off from your Internet Banking session using the 'Exit' button.

7. Computer Disposal - Before you dispose of a computer, delete personal information. Deleting files using the keyboard or mouse commands may not be enough because the files may stay on the computer's hard drive, where they may be easily retrieved. Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive. It makes the files unrecoverable.

Downloading & Storage Tips

1. Download With Caution - Do not download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don't know. Opening a file could expose your system to a computer virus or a program that could hijack your modem.

2. Storing Financial Information - Try not to store financial information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary. If you do, use a strong password - a combination of letters (upper and lowers case), numbers and symbols.

3. Automatic Login Information - Do not use an automatic login feature which saves your user name and password so you don't have to enter them each time you login or enter a site. (Turn off through IE - Tools - Internet Options - Content tab - Personal Information section, choose AutoComplete button)

4. Log Off - Always log off or exit when you're finished. That way, if your computer gets stolen, it's harder for the thief to access your personal information.

Surfing Web Sites & Shopping Online

1. Privacy Policies - Look for web site privacy policies. They answer questions about maintaining accuracy, access, security, and control of personal information collected by the site, as well as how information will be used, and whether it will be provided to third parties. If you don't see a privacy policy, consider surfing elsewhere.

2. Background Check - Shop only at reputable Web stores. If you've never heard of the company before, ask around before sending in your credit card. The National Fraud Information Center (http://www.fraud.org/) keeps an eye out for shady Internet dealings and offers consumer tips on its web site.

3. Secure Servers - Most legitimate Web merchants offer secure transactions. There are two ways to see if you are on a secured web site:

  • Look for the padlock in the lower right (Internet Explorer) or left (Netscape) corner of your browser window
  • Look in the address window above, the letters https:// should appear in front of the address of the form screen (instead of the non-secure http:// address)

4. Secure Certificates - Legitimate Web sites maintain current certificates for secure pages or applications (see #3 - padlock or https). To authenticate the site's secure Web page, follow these steps:

On the secure Web page, click on the File menu and go to Properties

Click on the button at the bottom of the screen called 'Certificates' - it should include the Web address (URL) with which the security certificate was issued and the validity dates.

5. Charge It - Use a credit card rather than a check or your ATM card when you shop online. By law, you are liable for no more than $50 for unauthorized charges, in the unlikely event that someone does steal your account information. You can also designate one credit card specifically for online purchases so it's easier to track the activity. NEVER give your bank account number to a Web merchant. It's just too tempting…

6. Too Good To Be True - Avoid purchasing a product from a merchant or an auction site where the deal looks 'too good to be true' because it usually is.

7. Healthy Skepticism - If you receive an email from an unknown address that bursts with vague promises of wealth and glory, you know what to do:

Trash it. Ditto for Web sites offering the latest greatest way to make thousands of dollars a week by working from home. It's easy to fake an email address, so pay more attention to the message contents rather than to the domain it supposedly came from.