Five Cyber Security Tips You Need to Know

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March 18th, 2016

Who hasn't heard of the notorious scam where a purported wealthy foreigner emails you, seeking help transferring millions of dollars? The offer: a hefty cut in exchange for your assistance, including what seems like an insignificant cash contribution or "investment" to move the process along.

Scams can hardly get more preposterous, but they keep coming - mostly because there are people who fall for them.

Security.iStock.small.jpgWhile there are no known antidotes for foolhardiness, you can take steps to protect yourself online.

1. Keep your machine clean...
When programs on your desktop or laptop computer prompt you to download updates with the latest set of security defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats, do it. Ignore the popular myths that Apple computers are impervious to bugs and that these updates will just introduce new glitches. Neither should keep you from keeping your computer up to date and protected.

2. ... and that includes mobile devices.
Not long after the iPad was introduced, in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs predicted the day would come when tablets would outsell PCs. A recent report suggested that day is closer than you realize.

The meat and potatoes of mobile devices are apps, so it follows that you want to download them carefully. Apple reviews all apps submitted to its App Store, but you should still exercise good judgment. Android users are typically viewed as more vulnerable, because they're a bigger target and because Android is an open source system that malware developers find easier to infiltrate.

3. Resist free public Wi-Fi
It's generally a good idea to avoid entering passwords or other sensitive personal information on public Wi-Fi. Just because you're in a Starbucks and "StarbucksSecure" popped up as an available network, you're not necessarily safe. Indeed, you may unwittingly be operating on a network set up by a hacker to log your every keystroke.

4. Protect your identity
Nearly 18 million U.S. residents experienced some form of identity theft in 2014. And that year, there were some 270,000 cybercrime complaints filed with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Steps you can take to protect yourself against hackers include switching up your username and passwords and making sure those passwords are complex and strong. Also, be wary of emails from strangers, and even from "friends," when the message seems out of character; sometimes your pals' email accounts have been hacked.

When shopping online, make sure the address field starts with "https" and you see a padlock icon in the checkout area before entering your personal information and credit card number. That prefix is your confirmation that you are in a secure spot.

5. Ask the experts
Financial institutions, including Northeast Bank and ableBanking, often offer online resources with further information about identity theft and other security measures.

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