Cyber Security Tips for Your Mobile Devices

Over the past few weeks we have talked about ways to keep your computer safe from cyber attacks.  So what about your mobile devices?  In the past couple of years, cyber security threats have majorly increased in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.  Just like your computer, you have to take certain security measures to keep safe online.  Here are some ways to make sure your mobile devices stay on top of the security game.

Encrypt Everything

If someone stole your smartphone, would they be able to download all the contents?  If your answer is yes, that means you need to use your encryption features to keep your identity safe.  Encrypting the contents will ensure that your files and information can’t be opened, even if someone illegally obtained them.  Encrypting your mobile devices can be as simple as going to your settings and enabling a password that you will enter every time you power on your device.  It keeps your identity safe, and it only takes a few minutes to activate.  

Stay On Top of Your Software

Staying on top of software updates to your mobile devices can get annoying, but that minor annoyance is worth knowing you are doing all you can to stay secure online.  When you get a software update, don’t delay in installing it.  When you install it, not only are you getting up-to-date features from your installed apps, but you are getting all the newest security features that are available.  Keeping up-to-date will help keep you safe.

Put It on Lock-down

Similar to encrypting your the contents of your device, you want to make sure you have a lock screen activated.  Usually smartphones and tablets have several different ways of providing this feature such as pass-codes, pattern codes, fingerprint recognition and even facial recognition.  It’s important to enable this feature, especially if you are prone to leaving your devices out in the open where anyone could get to them.  

Download Carefully

In these times we live in there is literally an app for almost anything you can think of.  While it is enticing to want to download tons of apps, be sure you know where it comes from before you install it.  Apps from unknown sources can have viruses built in them that can harm your device and steal your information.  Be sure you read about the apps and make sure they come from a reputable source before you download.

Connect Wisely

Just as we talked about with your computers, don’t connect your mobile devices to public Wi-Fi if you can help it.  Public Wi-Fi is not secure, and if you have your phone or tablet connected, your information is easily accessible to anyone who can get it.  If you need to use public Wi-Fi, at least don’t use your email or online banking while you are connected.

It’s important to take the same precautions with your phone or tablet as you would with your computer when it comes to cyber security.  Even though it may seem like overkill sometimes, you will be better off in the long run with these safety tips.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

5 Secure Habits of Online Banking

These days it seems like there is a new data breach in the news every month.  The most recent was the Equifax breach, which, according to CBS News, exposed the personal data of more than 145 million Americans.  It’s a scary world out there when it comes to cyber security, but that’s why it is important to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your information.  

Financial Institutions usually keep their online banking sites super secure.  Safety is a top priority for them because a big data breach is bad for their customers and bad for their business.  But even so, it’s important to know that you are doing everything you personally can to keep yourself secure when banking online.  

Last week we talked about different ways to be secure online, but this week we are going specifically into what you can do to make sure that you are keeping your online banking as secure as possible from your end.

Monitor Closely

Keep close watch on your bank accounts.  Log into them regularly to make sure that you know all of your transactions are ones that you know about and approve.  This is especially important if you do a lot of online shopping.  Check into your account every few days just to make sure you don’t see anything suspicious, and if you do see something, report it immediately.  

Use Extra Security Features

If your credit union or bank offers extra security protection features, take advantage of them.  A lot of financial institutions use two factor authentication, which can add an extra layer of identity security.  Sites with this feature will require you go one step past putting in a password to identify yourself using information only you would know.  This usually comes in the form of answering security questions that would be hard for anyone else to answer.  Other security features to take advantage of could be pass codes or fingerprint scans on your mobile devices, if available.  Anything that is available for extra security should be taken advantage of, even if it’s a little inconvenient.  A small inconvenience now is better than the huge inconvenience of having your identity stolen.

Look for Encryption Codes

When you are on your online banking website, check to make sure the site is encrypted before logging into your account.  To do this, all you have to do is look at the web address.  Does it say “http:” or “https:?”  If it has the extra “s” you know the site is secure.  Never put your bank information into a site that doesn’t have the “s” in the address.  That means the site would be easy for a hacker to infiltrate.  

Share With Caution

Budgeting and wallet apps make our lives easier, but be careful with any apps that ask for your bank information.  The well-known apps that need to link to your bank account such as, PayPal, Apple Pay and Android Pay are usually very secure.  However, the more you link your bank account, the more chances someone has to find it.  So be careful of how many times you put it out there.  It is advised to only link your account to one or two of these types of apps and leave the rest.  

React Quickly

Finally, if you see that something has been compromised with your accounts, act quickly.  Contact the appropriate people as soon as you realize something is wrong.  It will greatly enhance your chances of rectifying the situation – if nothing more than stopping the person before they do more damage.  

Remember, online banking safety isn’t just your credit union or bank’s responsibility.  Sure, they need to have their security measures in place, but you also need to be responsible for taking every measure possible to ensure your online safety.  This way, you can have peace of mind and bank online with confidence knowing you are well protected.


4 Ways to Reduce Your Security Risks Online

Not that long ago, one of the main threats to a credit union or bank was being robbed by armed gunmen demanding to get into the vault, but in the past five years or so, new threats of money-stealing activities have become more commonplace.  Sure, the bank robbers of old could still make their mark, but intelligent hackers have found a way to get a lot more than money in a vault,they have ways of getting everyone’s total online profile–including all of their bank accounts. The end result is the same, but the methods have changed.

That’s why you have to be so vigilant about how secure you are with your online bank accounts, so you won’t end up in the above scenario.  Lucky for you, we have four tips that will help you stay on top of your online security.  

Public Wifi Woes

Wi-fi can be found almost anywhere these days.  From the local coffee shop to Target and other big box retailers, you can get online anywhere.  This is great if all you are going to do is read some articles online or casually browse the internet.  However, never do any kind of online banking, bill paying, or other monetary transactions over a public wi-fi network.  Oftentimes these networks aren’t very secure, which makes a perfect and easy playground for hackers.  So, just say no to public wi-fi when it comes to money online.

Keep a Watch on Emails

Emails can be the bait in a grand hacking scheme.  That’s why luring people into a scam by sending emails is called “phishing”.  If you get a suspicious email that says you won an all expense paid vacation to Tahiti, and you know you never entered a contest for a trip, then it’s a scam.  Whatever you do, do not even click those emails open to check it out.  Once you open those emails and click on their links, they can download all your information off of your computer, track your keystrokes to get passwords, and all other kinds of horrible acts.  When they have all of that information, your bank accounts are compromised along with your entire identity.  So suspicious or “too good to be true” emails are out–just don’t do it!

Use Anti-Virus Software

To keep the online security threats at bay, make sure you have a good anti-virus software program on your computers and mobile devices.  Keep them updated regularly for the best security.  If your devices aren’t protected, you are a prime target for hackers to get your information.

Change Your Password Regularly

One of the easiest actions you can take to keep yourself more secure online is to regularly change your passwords.  Changing up your passwords on your bank accounts every once in awhile will keep a hacker guessing.  If you can’t remember to change it, set a reminder every other month or so, and it will prompt you to change them.  Of course, make sure you use a password that no one could easily guess, and never use the same exact password for multiple accounts.

So being secure doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes a little common sense.  Keep these principles in mind next time you worry about your online security.


5 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Giving Back


Everyone knows that being charitable is a good life practice to follow, but how do you get your kids in on the action?  There are several ways to teach your kids lessons about giving back–and not all them directly involve money.  Showing your kids that giving is just as important as any of the money lessons you’ve taught them will set them up for a life that’s more fulfilled.   Here are just a few ways you can teach your kids about giving.

Giving Money

Of course, the most obvious way to teach your kids to give would be to give part of their earned money to a charity or church.  As we’ve talked about before, when you give them their allowance/commission, make them divide it up into the categories of spend, save, and give.  Make them put a portion back for each category.  Next, help your child decide which organization or cause they want would like to give their money to.  By giving them the option of choosing where their money goes, they are getting to be active in the giving process. This will have a greater impact on them in the long run.

Donating Items

Another great way to teach your kids to give back is to donate items they don’t use or wear anymore.  Perhaps the simplest way to give back, it’s an activity that you can easily do with your child.  Help your child go through clothing items that no longer fit and toys they no longer play with and put the items to be donated in a box.  With your child, help them pick a local organization to give them to.  Explain to them where these clothes and toys may go, who needs them, and why it’s good for you to give them to someone else.  Make this a regular occurrence–maybe once a season or so–that way it will help build a habit of giving.  

Service Projects

Sometimes, extra money or objects aren’t readily available to give.  It’s good to teach your kids that even if you don’t have a ton of money to give, you can always give your time.  Engage your child in a small service project once in awhile to show them that giving your time can be just as valuable as giving your money.  Help an elderly neighbor with some yard or housework, volunteer at your local food pantry or animal shelter– anything that will show your child how to give their time to a worthy cause.  It’s important to do this several times a year so that your child won’t think it’s just a one time thing.  Lead by example, and this will become a habit in no time.

Birthday Giving

Perhaps one of the more fun ways to teach a kid to give back is to make their birthday a day for giving. When throwing your child a birthday party, add an element of charitable giving to the mix.  Get your guests to each bring a book or toy to donate either in place of or in addition to gifts for the birthday boy or girl.  If you wanted to go another route, you could invite your guests to meet you at a local charity or service project as your “party”.  Instead of playing games, you could be doing a service project for your community!  This isn’t something your child would probably want to do every year, but every once in awhile it’s a good reminder to share your time with others.

Family Time

Another way to teach your kids about giving is to get the whole family involved.  Show your kids that you are willing to join in the giving fun by signing your family up for a service project or other event you can all do together.  Races and walks for charity are a fun way to raise money as a family.  Holidays are also a good time to serve as a family because there is a lot of time for family togetherness around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  You can serve food for the community together, join in a toy drive, host a canned food drive and much more!  It’s all what you make it, and you can definitely find tons of ideas to serve your community as a family.

So you see, there are many different ways to teach kids about giving.  It may require some coaching and planning, but once you get them in the habit of giving they will enjoy giving back to their community for years to come.