Manheim Chamber spotlights cyber security

By on March 13, 2019

Keeping devices and data safe as you’re surfing the Internet is important to everyone &tstr; no matter what their age or if it’s for business or personal use. That was the topic of Manheim Chamber’s Women Engaged in Business (WEB) March 5 meeting.

George Dillman, investor coordinator with the state Department of Banking and Securities’ Investor Education and Consumer Outreach Office presented “Cybersecurity: Keeping Yourself Safe Online.”

He advises computer users to be sure they’re using the most recent version of their web browser and operating system, and to keep antivirus or other software up-to-date with regularly scheduled checks.

“Not updating your software can leave you vulnerable to ‘bad guys,” he stressed.
He also said it’s good to clear the browsing history &tstr; each web browser, i.e., Internet Explorer, Google, etc. has instructions for performing this task. When surfing the Internet and making a purchase or filling out a form, be sure the website is encrypted &tstr; the website’s address will begin with https: rather than http: and a padlock symbol will appear at the bottom of the screen.
Wi-Fi safety: At home, be sure to keep the wireless router secure with a “strong password” and be care who the password is shared with. Dillman said using public Wi-Fi can be risky, so “avoid financial transactions and other matters, if possible.”

With regard to passwords, he stressed that they should be unique, and the password for each account should be different.

“Don’t use names, birthdates, phrases or other easy to guess words (from information posted on social media such as your pet’s name) examples include “password,” “qwerty,” “abc123” or other numeric, alphabetic or alpha-numeric sequence.

George Dillman of the Pennsylvania Department of banking and Securities presented a program on cybersecurity at a March 6 Manheim Chamber meeting. Photo by Rochelle Shenk.

“Do use a combination of capital and lower case letters and numbers and/or symbols; the combination should be a minimum of eight characters. Change passwords to the most vulnerable accounts every 60 to 90 days.”

Strength of the password can be checked at howsecureismypassword.net

If an account requires a security question, Dillman said the question should be one that only the user will know.

“Avoid using your mother’s maiden name or your pet’s name if you can as well as answers that could be easily discovered on social media,” he said. “If possible, create your own questions.”
For people doing online shopping, he advises using websites the person is familiar with or are reputable. Whenever possible, use a credit card rather than a debit card with a credit card logo; debit cards are linked to bank accounts, and if the card is compromised, the wrong people could have access to a person’s bank account. Dillman said it’s always a good idea to research a new website prior to doing business on that site.

Another area of concern for cybersecurity is social media. “Social media is here to stay; 68 percent of all Americans use social media,” he said.

Tips for staying safe while posting, liking and sharing include:

• Be careful what you put out there for your “friends” to see. Limit the information your social media outlets can access from you.
• Disable GPS tags on the photos you take and post to social media
• Remember, everything you put on social media could be seen by other people and could be permanent.
• Limit who can “see” your social media pages –set your security and privacy settings according to your comfort level.
• Think twice before downloading “extras” such as games on social media sites; they may not be trustworthy.
It’s a good idea to monitor your virtual presence. Google yourself using different combinations of your name and the city or state you live in.
“If you can find it, criminals can too. If something you find makes you uncomfortable, investigate it,” Dillman said.

Cybersecurity is as important for mobile devices (phones, tablets) as it is for desktop and laptop systems. Two key cyber safety points-lock the device with a pin or password and never text personal information such as account or social security numbers. Before getting rid of the device, ensure that the information has been completely wiped from it.

“Identity thieves scan the internet for personal information, so be careful what you put out there,” Dillman advised, “Ask questions before you give personal information to anyone online, over the phone or in person.”

He also provided some resources in the event that one becomes a victim of identity theft. He said the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), ftc.gov, is a good place to start; there’s a tab on their website to report identity theft. Other steps to take include alerting the state Attorney General’s office (attorneygeneral.gov/gethelp) contacting your bank, credit union or credit card company or the place where you think the loss occurred such as an online retailer to stop the losses, contact your local police department to report it.

“Theft is theft, and it’s important to report it to your local police department” he stressed.

“Today we are more aware of cybersecurity and potential risks, but it’s always good to review safe surfing information. If you do become a victim of identity theft, resources are more readily available today, but it can still be a process to resolve the issue,” Dillman said.

The state Department of Banking and Securities offers an online guide to cybersecurity. It is available at pa.gov/guides/cybersecurity/.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com. 

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