Ways to Protect Your Computer and Personal Information

Your identity, your money, and your personal information could be at risk if your home computer accesses the Internet. If you are unsure of the security features and how to use them, it could result in identity theft or fraud. Here are some best practices to help you keep your computer as safe as possible.

Anti Virus Software

Install, use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer. Virus protection software should be installed and updated on a regular basis. Ideally, you should set the updates to run automatically every day.

Browser Security

Use a secure browser which encrypts the information you send over the internet. Look for the padlock icon on the browser status bar to ensure that your information is being transmitted securely.

  • Watch out for copycat sites that may try to look like a financial institution. Be sure you are using the correct web address for your bank
  • If you are providing financial information or placing an order online, be sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with "https://" and the "closed padlock" ( ) in the lower right hand corner of your browser
  • Do business only with financial institutions and online merchants that you know and trust.
  • Don't reply to any e-mail or pop-up message that requests you update or provide personal information.
  • Never leave your computer unattended while using any online banking or investing service.
  • Always log off completely and close your browser when you are finished with a secure session.
  • Only access your personal financial information from a computer you "trust." Internet kiosks and cyber cafes are not as secure as your personal computer.

Computer Disposal

Before you dispose of or donate your old computer, remember to delete all the personal information stored on it. It is best to use a “wipe” program which will overwrite the entire hard drive.

Email Safety

  • If an offer received via email or on a Web site sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Email is not secure. Never email personal financial information such as account numbers or your Social Security number.
  • Don't open email or attachments from senders you don't know. And even when you know the source, exercise caution. Attachments may be Trojan Horse programs that compromise your computer's security.
  • Beware of email scams. Never respond to unsolicited email or click a link within a suspicious email asking you to validate your account information or provide personal information.
  • Use email filtering software to screen for "spam" and identify suspect messages.
  • Turn off the "preview" function of your email program. The feature can be a security risk.
  • Use secure messaging when it's available. Our Online Banking application has a secure messaging feature available once you have successfully logged in.


Installing and using firewall software will help protect your computer from internet intruders. It is also best to disconnect from the internet when not in use. Consider using a personal firewall to prevent hackers from invading your personal computer, especially if you are using DSL or a cable modem to access the Internet. A firewall can make you virtually "invisible" online and will help to block out communications from unauthorized sources.

Patches and Security Updates

Make sure your computer is up-to-date with security patches for your operating system and applications. On a regular basis, download and install the patches and security updates provided by the software vendor. Windows users should turn the Auto-Update feature on. Security patches may be found at vendor's websites. Check the sites periodically as these patches are frequently updated.

Wireless Networking

If you use wireless networking, make sure to turn on all security features such as WPA encryption. Change the default password and SSID on your wireless router.

Recognizing Fake Antiviruses

Fake antivirus is malicious software (malware) designed to steal information from unsuspecting users by mimicking legitimate security software. The malware makes numerous system modifications making it extremely difficult to terminate unauthorized activities and remove the program. It also causes realistic, interactive security warnings to be displayed to the computer user.

  • How can my computer become infected with fake antivirus?
    • Criminals distribute this type of malware using search engines, emails, social networking sites, internet advertisements and other malware. They leverage advanced social engineering methodologies and popular technologies to maximize the number of infected computers.
  • How will I know if I am infected?
    • The presence of pop-ups displaying unusual security warnings and asking for credit card or personal information is the most obvious method of identifying a fake antivirus infection.
  • What can I do to protect myself?
    • Be cautious when visiting web links or opening attachments from unknown senders.
    • Keep all of your computer software patched and updated.>
    • To purchase or renew software subscriptions, visit the vendor sites directly.
    • Monitor your credit cards for unauthorized activity.

Protecting your Passwords

Protecting your passwords is one way to keep your identity and your personal information safe while online. Creating complex passwords and changing them regularly are the best ways to combat your passwords being stolen or hacked into.

  • Make your passwords long. While 6-8 characters is a recommended setting, using over eight characters is one way to make your password more complex
  • Use  a combination of letters, numbers and special characters
  • Add numbers to the middle of the password instead of the beginning or end.
    • Example:  Pas123swor!d instead of using Password123!
  • Avoid using common terms or easy to guess words. Identifying information such as your date of birth, address or relatives names should only be used when combined with a complex password
  • Avoid using the same password for more than one site
  • Always keep any written record of passwords in a secure place
  • Make changing your passwords a priority. Mark your calendar and change them every three to six months.

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