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You Don’t Have Permission to Shut Down and Restart This Computer

You Don’t Have Permission to Shut Down and Restart This ComputerYou don’t have permission to shut down this computer

Some Windows 7 and Windows 10 users have come across an error message stating “You don’t have permission to shut down and restart this computer”.  This appears to be linked to a recent Adobe CC update, specifically related to the Adobe Genuine Monitor Service, Adobe Genuine Software Integrity Service and the Adobe Update Service. The Windows 7 Adobe update has been rolled back, however the Windows 10 Adobe update is still an issue and has not been recognized by Adobe at this time.

To temporarily fix this issue you can disable the affected Adobe services by clicking the Start button and typing services.msc and pressing enter or click the “Services App” option at the top of the start menu.

services.msc

Once you have the services panel open find the following services: “Adobe Genuine Monitor Service”, “Adobe Genuine Software Integrity Service”, and “Adobe Update”. Double click each of them one at a time to open them then click Stop then select Startup Type – Disabled.

Adobe Services

Once you have stopped and disabled the services you can try to shutdown the computer. If you are still getting the error “You Don’t Have Permission to Shut Down and Restart This Computer” you may have to perform a hard shutdown (hold the power button for at least 10 seconds) once then turn the computer back on. Going forward you should be able to shutdown/restart as normal.

 

If you need any assistance with this process open a ticket or call us at 319-227-7000 and we would be happy to assist. Disabling the wrong services could cause further problems with your computer.

2020-02-18T08:47:54-06:00February 18th, 2020|Computer Repair|0 Comments

Are Your HIPAA Compliance Efforts Healthy?

Are Your HIPAA Compliance Efforts Healthy?

HIPAA ComplianceLet’s address the (ahem …) hippo in the room. HIPAA compliance continues to be a real challenge for small and mid-sized businesses.

HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which has very specific rules and regulations around a patient’s health information.

Larger healthcare organizations – hospitals and insurance companies – have in-house information technology teams, but smaller businesses don’t have the same depth of IT help on hand. Yet they must abide by the same rules.

Risking a HIPAA violation can be costly. Fines reach up to $50,000 US dollars per occurrence.

Common violations include:

  • Keeping records unsecured. WellPoint didn’t secure an online health database and paid $1.7 million
  • Not encrypting data. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary failed to encrypt physicians’ laptops, which led to a $1.5 million fine.
  • Loss or theft of devices containing personal health information (PHI). A pediatric practice in Massachusetts lost a flash drive and settled for a $150,000 fine.
  • Failing to train employees in HIPAA compliance. A Walgreens in Indiana breached a single patient’s privacy and paid her $1.44 million.
  • Disposing of records improperly. Affinity Health Plan paid $1.2 million after failing to erase the photocopier drives before returning them to the leasing company.
  • Releasing information without authorization. Phoenix Cardiac Surgery posted a patient’s appointment on an online calendar and paid $100,000.
  • Disclosing PHI to third parties who do not have access rights. A medical practice in Phoenix sent patient data over insecure email and was fined $100,000.

Tips for HIPAA Compliance

Be aware of HIPAA requirements. Smaller businesses can have a tougher time remaining up to date on technology and guidelines. But that doesn’t make them any less accountable for understanding HIPAA compliance. It’s important to do the research and get educated, or partner with an IT provider with the expertise to prevent possible violations.

Embrace encryption. If your business deals with any confidential information, encryption and firewalls are necessary. Prevent outside traffic from accessing your systems. Ensure data can’t be read if there is unauthorized access. If there is a breach, or a lost or stolen device, the HIPAA penalties are reduced if encryption is used.

Protect all your endpoints. Any mobile devices that have access to patient data need to be secured. With mobile device management, for instance, you can lock down and wipe lost or stolen devices.

Err on the side of caution. Employees gossiping over coffee in a dentist’s office could share patient information, or someone might be sending an email with unencrypted data, or a health announcement with recipient names visible. All these are HIPAA violations. Humans will make mistakes, yes, but it’s less likely if you educate about regulations and the importance of being careful.

Get a HIPAA Check-Up

HIPAA has been around since 1996. In 2005, regulators got more serious about electronic versions of PHI. Yet there are still some businesses out there with only a vague idea of what it means to be compliant.

Heavy hitters in healthcare already take HIPAA seriously. You should, too. So, you haven’t been audited yet, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be. A $50,000 HIPAA fine could make the difference in your business staying afloat another year.

HIPAA compliance is critical for many organizations. Set policies and procedures. Put in place security awareness training. Start using encryption, and assess for risks.

Be proactive with your IT management. By working with IT experts, you can stay on top of HIPAA and remain complaint. A managed services provider can assess risk, identify improvement areas, and propose new tech.

Call us at 319-227-7000 to get your IT and access management policies in healthy shape.

2020-02-03T14:45:28-06:00February 11th, 2020|Compliance|0 Comments

The Advantages of Ad Blocking

The Advantages of Ad Blocking

Ad BlockingThe Advantages of Ad Blocking. Unless you’re in the advertising business, you probably try to avoid ads. You pay extra to stream ad-free content online. You leave the room if you are actually watching live TV shows with ads. You filter spam out of your inbox. You immediately click out of ads on the Web pages you visit. But are you actively blocking online ads? You should be. They are more than an annoyance. They could be a security risk.

Cyber-criminals are smart and savvy crooks. They don’t advertise what they are doing, and it’s not that easy to spot, but they do buy legitimate ad space to lure users to malicious sites.

Malvertising uses legitimate online advertising networks to target you with malicious code. Sites you know and trust that use legitimate ad networks can end up serving up the malicious ads. Cyber-criminals have run ads on the New York Times, Spotify, and the London Stock Exchange redirecting to malicious websites.

Adware is another risk. Packaged with legitimate software, adware runs on your computer without your knowledge. It displays unwanted advertising, redirects search requests to ad websites, and mines your data.

The cyber-criminal wants to steal your ID, or your financial and contact data, or to encrypt your information, spy on, or hijack your computer.

They can do this with exciting ads ($9 iPads?!) or alerts (often warning about infections) to get your click. But they can also take a drive-by download approach. In these cases, you don’t even need to click on anything. You load the Web page hosting the ad (or malicious pop-up window). You’re directed to a page that finds browser or software security vulnerabilities to access your machine.

Protecting Against Malvertising

Keep your software up to date, and run antivirus checks to protect against downloads and malicious code. Avoiding Flash and Java helps too, as they are commonly exploited by malvertisers.

Cyber-criminals mostly target Windows users, because the huge user base gives them the best return on investment. But Macs are just as vulnerable to malvertising attacks. – MalwareBytes

Installing an ad blocker plugin prevents the ad loading in the first place. These take away the annoyance of ads and help you avoid falling victim to a malicious attack hidden in an ad.

At the same time, you will enjoy cleaner Web browsing, and you won’t have to worry about distracting ads flashing at you while you read.

Your pages will also load faster. The ads often run a lot of code on top of the website code your computer needs to read and load. The images or video, for instance, can make a difference to data usage. So, the less you have to load, the faster you’ll get to the content you wanted. This can also help to preserve the battery life of your mobile devices!

There are some other considerations, though. For one, not all adblocker plugins can be trusted. Some will mine your data and sell it to advertisers, which is exactly what you don’t want happening.

Also, some websites won’t load correctly without the ad code. You can turn off ads on a site-by-site basis. After all, some free sites that you frequent might rely on ad revenue, so there may be sites you trust that you want to support by turning off your ad blocker just for those sites.

Always think before you click. Updating browsers and plugins and installing ad blockers can also help.

For the peace of mind that comes with ad blocking and keeping your computer security current, give us a call at 319-227-7000. We can help set you up to enjoy a safer online experience.

2020-02-03T14:31:21-06:00February 4th, 2020|Security|0 Comments

Is Your Printer an Ink-Sucking Monster?

Is Your Printer an Ink-Sucking Monster?

printerHow long have you had your home printer? Maybe you have a printer that came as a package deal with your desktop or free with your laptop purchase. Look in many home offices and you’ll probably see a less-expensive inkjet printer sitting beside even the swankiest monitor. Here’s why it’s time for an upgrade.

You should know that printers are often sold at cost or even as a loss leader (below cost to get your business). After all, once you get that cheap/free inkjet printer, you’ll pay for ink cartridges for the life of the printer. To make sure they get your money, manufacturers often sell new printers with half-empty ink cartridges from the start!

You’ve heard “you get what you paid for,” right? Well, that’s definitely true for low-cost printers. Manufacturers are cutting production costs to keep the price down. These printers are not built with longevity in mind. Printer owners encounter all kinds of problems:

  • multiple sheets pulled from the paper tray at once;
  • paper jams;
  • slow printer response;
  • drop off in print quality;
  • ink smearing.

Frustrated customers soon discover they’ll pay more to fix their printer than they would to buy a new one.

Upgrading to an office-grade printer

Our solution? High-performance commercial printers. Office-grade printers are designed as work horses. These robust printers are built to withstand heavy use with speed and reliably. Yes, they cost more, but they are also less prone to problems and more likely to be a long-term valuable addition to your home office.

You’ll have many printer profiles to choose from. You might select a printer based on its pages-per-minute printing speed. Or maybe you want a larger paper tray capacity and bigger ink cartridges. Depending on your needs, you might want a printer that allows for simultaneous operation. That would let one person print while another is able to scan or copy. Built-in Wi-Fi could also be useful in small home offices if you’re tired of tripping over so many unsightly cords.

While you’re in the market for a new printer, know that we recommend laser printers over inkjet. Laser printers use a dry toner rather than wet ink. The toner cartridges are more expensive, but they print more sheets per cartridge than inkjets, plus, toner doesn’t dry up like ink. And you don’t have to worry about the printer heads getting blocked.

Lasers print faster, and you’ll have fewer problems, which means these printers are typically less expensive to operate long-term.

Inkjet printers typically have a minimum life span of three years, whereas you can expect a laser printer to last five years, although this will depend on frequency of use, of course.

When looking at laser printers, give serious thought to whether you need a color printer. How many times do you actually use color? Does it merit the added expense of that option? People who are printing photos at home only occasionally could probably get their images printed professionally for less overall cost.

Prioritize your printer

Even in our increasingly digital world, there are still times when we want to print. Whether it’s a family photo, school report, resume, or slide deck, you want to count on your printer for high quality and reliable performance.

There are many, many office-grade printers to choose from, and it can become overwhelming. What and how much you print should factor into your decision.

Find the printer for your budget that will last long term with help from our experts. Call 319-227-7000.

2020-01-07T09:31:55-06:00January 28th, 2020|Hardware, Printers|0 Comments

You’re Never Too Small for Outsourced IT

You’re Never Too Small for Outsourced IT

Outsourced IT
Small business owners are proud of getting everything done with few people. Every team member wears many hats. They are part of a family, devoted to the firm’s success. But that doesn’t make them qualified to handle IT. Really, you’re never too small for outsourced IT.

A small business may only have a few computers for its handful of employees. Having an in-house person dedicated to IT support would be overkill. But just because the technology is working fine today doesn’t mean your IT is performing at its best. That’s why it can be beneficial to outsource IT.

Having someone who knows technology working for your team can pay huge dividends. Your outsourcing partner will add value by:

  • helping you avoid bad tech purchases or buying software you don’t need;
  • identifying where you can be more efficient with tools you already have, which can save money;
  • providing knowledgeable support and IT help;
  • learning business needs and making recommendations about the best IT for your goals;
  • protecting your business technology and ensuring computers are up to date with security patches.

Small Business Breaches

Cyber-criminals don’t care about business size. In fact, according to Accenture, 43% of cyber-attacks were aimed at small businesses, and only 14% of the SMBs were prepared for defending their networks and sensitive data.

In fact, a small business can be a particularly appealing target. Hackers will exploit a small business as part of a campaign to attack a larger business. They know the SMB is less likely to have the same level of security as the bigger target in their sights.

Accenture’s 2019 study found that more than half of all small businesses had suffered a breach in the last year. These attacks can be crippling for SMBs. According to insurance carrier Hiscox, the average cyber-attack costs a business $200,000. That figure can be a killer blow for a small business. Some 60% of SMBs hacked go out of business within six months of the attack. Even if they can survive the financial hit, damage to brand reputation and customer goodwill is devastating.

Advantages of Outsourced IT

You may not have a clear picture of your cyber-security status right now, but by working with a managed services provider (MSP) you’ll get one. Your partner will conduct an informal audit of your current technology and learn your short- and long-term goals.

Your small business, for instance, may not have a data protection procedure. You might be thinking you don’t have a lot to backup and store. But the quantity may not be the primary concern. Can you recover if your business loses an email chain it was keeping for legal or compliance reasons? What would happen if the computer holding your accounting database died? An MSP can identify where tech changes can better ensure business continuity.

When you outsource, your partner will also inventory all your tech assets. They’ll need to know everything about your infrastructure and your business’s technology capabilities. Your current team may recognize the importance of securing the business’s intellectual property, but are they also protecting customer data and employee records? Your business needs to be intentional about confidentiality, availability, and safety. An MSP can help.

The cost of outsourcing is often a stumbling block for the budget-conscious SMB. Managed IT services can often lower costs for clients by streamlining processes, managing vendor relationships, and ensuring that the business technology is best suited to current needs. And you’ll pay a fixed regular fee for a technology team member who will help you avoid big, costly tech surprises.

No business is too small to outsource IT. Having access to a full-time IT professional via a managed service provider can improve your operations, enhance productivity, and lower cyber-security risk.

Find out more about what we can do for you! Call us at 319-227-7000!

2020-01-07T09:12:49-06:00January 21st, 2020|Managed Services|0 Comments

Don’t Get Hooked By a Whaling Attack

Don’t Get Hooked By a Whaling Attack

whaling attackThe executives of your company are the big fish in your sea. Yet cyber-criminals think of them as whales. A whaling attack is a new cyber-security threat targeting the C-suite level.

You’ve likely heard of phishing attacks. Phishers use scam emails or spoofed websites to obtain user credentials or financial information. This might be an email that looks like it is from your bank asking you to log in and update your details, or a supposed tax alert needing immediate action.

A vishing attack is another fraudulent attempt to steal protected data, but the cyber-criminals are going to use the phone to make contact. They might pretend to be a vendor needing to confirm account details for bill payment.

There’s also spear phishing. In these cases, the attackers do their homework first and target a specific company. They scour directories and employee social media to gather information to gain credibility.

Now, there are whaling attacks, too. The high-value target is a senior-level employee. The fraudster typically also impersonates one of the target’s C-suite counterparts.

What You Need to Know About Whaling

A whaling attack uses the same methods as phishing but focuses on top-level targets. The goal is to get “whales” to reveal sensitive information or transfer money to fraudsters’ accounts.

Whale attacks are intentional. Phishing can see attackers baiting hundreds of hooks to get nibbles. In whaling, information gathered in advance adds credibility to the social engineering. The target has higher value, so it’s worth their time to appear knowledgeable and make a request to and from someone important.

The sender’s email address will look convincing (e.g. from [email protected] instead of [email protected]). The messages will have corporate logos and legitimate links to the company site. Because humans want to help, the communications typically involve an urgent matter.

Whaling attacks are on the rise. In 2016, Snapchat admitted compromising employee data after receiving an email, seemingly from its CEO, asking for payroll information.

In another high-profile example, Mattel nearly transferred $3 million to a Chinese account. Company policy required two signatures, but the attackers (taking advantage of a recent shakeup) faked the new CEO’s signature. The second executive went ahead and added a signature. The only thing that saved the company was that it was a Chinese bank holiday.

Protecting Against Whale Attacks

As with phishing or vishing, the primary way to protect against whaling attacks is to question everything. Train your key staff members to guard what they share on social media. Encourage them to question any unsolicited request. If they weren’t expecting an attachment or link, they should follow up. If a request is unusual, they should trust their spidey-sense and proceed with caution.

It’s also a good idea to develop a policy for handling requests for money or personal information. By requiring that two people must always weigh in, you’re more likely to catch a scam before it’s too late.

Also, train all your employees to look carefully at email addresses and sender names. They should also know to hover over links (without clicking on them) to reveal the full URL.

Security awareness is crucial. It’s also a good idea to test your employees with mock phishing emails.

Need help training employees or testing social engineering? Contact our experts today, call us at 319-227-7000!

2020-01-07T12:31:17-06:00January 17th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Computer Cleaning for the New Year

Computer Cleaning for the New Year

computer cleaning
The new year can mean resolutions and promises for a “new you.” One way to start this year feeling more in control is to clean up your computer. Follow these simple steps!

Tackle the inbox

We do a lot of shopping at the end of the year. Whether you shop online or in stores, you’re asked to provide your email address when you buy, which multiplies the number of mailing lists you’re on. Don’t start the new year overwhelmed by unwanted advertising emails.

The extra messages in your inbox distract you from the messages that matter. Instead of deleting every new unread message from “Let’s Make Cookies,” click on one and unsubscribe. Usually, there’s a link that lets you do this at the bottom of the email. If you’re a Gmail user, start your effort to cut down on unwanted mail in your Promotions tab. Google’s algorithm sends sales pitches here, so cut messages from this section first.

Clear bookmarks

The internet is built for browsing. We’ve all lost hours to clicking and linking in this vortex of information. “Wait. How did I end up here looking at kittens eating cupcakes?!” To make things easier, we’ll bookmark sites we visit often or put a page we want to return to on a reading list.

By the end of the year, we have marked many sites that we don’t even remember bookmarking in the first place. “When was I interested in this?” Getting rid of any bookmarks for passing interests can help you navigate the Web better this year.

In Google Chrome, click on the three dots in the upper-right of your browser window (to the left of your profile icon). The drop-down menu will have a Bookmarks option. Click on this to see another drop-down menu with Bookmark Manager on it. On the next screen every one of your bookmarks will have three dots beside it. Click on this to select the delete option, and get rid of the ones you don’t need any longer.

Safari users can click on Bookmarks on the top menu or the sidebar icon on the tool bar (to the right of the arrows on the left). Then edit your bookmarks by clicking on sites you no longer want and hitting your delete button.

Sort through downloads

We also download a lot of stuff in a year. Sometimes, because we’re impatient or don’t realize we’ve already hit download, we get multiple copies of the same file! A full download folder takes up storage space on your computer and can slow your computer down.

On a Mac, go to the Finder and click on Downloads on the “Go” drop-down menu. You’ll find a folder filled with .pdfs, .docs, and .jpegs you long forgot about. Click on those you don’t need any more and drag them to your trash can.

On Windows, you can usually go to the “This PC” icon and then the “Downloads” Folder. Right-click on the files you don’t want, and choose “Delete.”

Empty trash/recycling bins

Items you put in the trash or recycling bins at home take up space until you take those bins to the curb or the dump, and the same is true of your computer trash or recycling. Empty these bins by selecting “empty trash” on your Mac Finder menu, or “empty recycle bin” after clicking on the bin icon in Windows 10.

Remove unused programs/apps – If you’re not using a program or app, don’t give it computer space. On a Mac, you can click on the icon for that program and drag it to the Trash. With Windows, you’ll open the Start menu, click on Settings, then System, then Apps and Features from the left pane to select what you want to uninstall. Click the uninstall button, and you’ve de-cluttered your computer that little bit more for the new year. If you need help with any of these streamlining measures or would like to schedule a tune-up, let us know. We can help! Call 319-227-7000 or fill out our contact form.

2020-01-07T08:46:08-06:00January 14th, 2020|Computer Repair|0 Comments

Trades Should Add Technology to Their Tool Belts

Trades Should Add Technology to Their Tool BeltsTrades Should Add Technology

There are many hands-on trades that haven’t traditionally needed technology. Yet modern tech tools help the plumber, carpenter, welder, or other trade improve productivity and competitiveness.

There are certain common tasks tradespeople face daily:

  • scheduling appointments with clients, suppliers, or inspectors;
  • tracking project deadlines and budgets;
  • communicating with project managers, customers, trades, office administrators;
  • paying employee salaries;
  • invoicing and tracking payables, receivables.

These can all be done with pen and paper, sticky notes, and forms in triplicate, but technology cuts the time spent and lets you focus instead on increasing your bottom line.

The Difference Technology Tools Make

Most of us carry small, powerful computers around in our pockets every day, whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet. Internet-connected devices give tradespeople access to tools to enhance productivity.

Let’s start with scheduling apps, as tradespeople are often on the move throughout the day. Signing up for a scheduling tool (e.g. Doodle) makes it easier to set appointments, and you aren’t involved in the booking process. Customers simply go to your website or link to the app and choose an available time that works best for them. You can even set it up to ensure you have buffers between appointments or prevent someone from scheduling a new, big project to start at the end of your day.

Integrating the scheduling app with your website helps customers reach you. Also, connecting also to a shared cloud calendar can help your team work together better. Everyone invited into the calendar can see who is out on a call, and where.

You can make changes to a cloud-based calendar on any connected device. Others will see the alterations in real-time. This helps you avoid scheduling conflicts. You can set a follow-up meeting with an inspector while you’re out in the field. The office secretary sees your availability in real-time to set up a new customer visit.

Your Trade Office On the Move

With cloud-based office software also available online, you can get more done out of the office. You don’t have to make a trip back to the office to enter your invoice slips and make photocopies of receipts. Instead, take pictures on your phone or tablet, and attach them to the project file in the cloud, or invoice directly from a secure cloud-based processing site. You won’t have to worry about any paperwork getting lost in the back of a truck or bottom of a toolbox.

The Microsoft Office suite, Google Docs, and cloud storage are available from iOS and Android devices. This lets you monitor project timelines, view budgets, and track invoices and payments in the field. Cloud-based accounting packages let you see cash-flow or outstanding balances, and pay contractors or suppliers on the spot.

Cloud-based software also gives every employee access to business tools in the office. With a virtual desktop, they can collaborate easily (out on a job or in the office) and make changes in real-time. For instance, a contractor could access software to edit a building plan, then actually see the new design in 3D modelling software.

The great news is that technology is ever more accessible and easy to use. Embracing modern digital tools can improve customer service and trade business efficiency.

Your skill set may not extend to technology, but that’s where we come in. We can help you find the right technology for your business needs. Contact us at 319-227-7000 today!

2020-01-07T09:27:24-06:00January 7th, 2020|Cloud Services|0 Comments

What Is a VPN and Why Do I Need One?

What Is a VPN and Why Do I Need One?

What Is a VPN
Ever seen a thriller in which someone asks, “is this a secure line?” The good guys or villains want to be sure their conversations can’t be overhead. When you get a VPN service, you’re signing up for the online equivalent of a secure line.

VPN stands for virtual private network. Put simply, a VPN connects your computer, smartphone, or tablet to a shared or public network as if you’re connecting to a private network. Banks, governments, and companies use VPNs to connect to their networks remotely. Now, it’s becoming more common for the general public to use VPNs. After all, we’re doing online shopping or banking and exchanging sensitive data. We don’t want others to be able to access or track what we do online.

A VPN is an encrypted connection to the internet. It’s your own secure and private internet connection that you can take with you outside of your home.

Benefits of a VPN

There are many advantages to having a VPN. For instance, your VPN also encrypts your online activity. Every internet user has a unique IP address assigned by their internet provider. It’s sort of the technological equivalent of your fingerprint.

When you connect to the internet using a VPN, your IP address is masked. The address used is that of your VPN provider. So, you look like them rather than your home connection. You might think of the VPN as wearing gloves that prevent you from leaving fingerprints when you move around online.

Your search history isn’t logged. You don’t have to worry about bad actors or advertisers tracking your activity. If you want to check social media at work or on a school campus that blocks certain sites, your VPN lets you do so.

You can use the VPN to access a business network securely, too. So, you can use the technology to be more efficient when working remotely.

A VPN can also help you avoid geo-blocking. What’s geo-blocking? It’s a technology that restricts your access to services based on your location. For example, if you were trying to stream a Netflix show from your home country from overseas, you would be geo-blocked. But if Netflix can’t see you’re out of the country, it will let you in to catch up on your favorites.

You could also save money. When your location isn’t known, you can benefit from price disparities – the cost for the same product varies in different regions. The wealthier areas are charged more because sellers can get away with the price markup.

Who can use a VPN?

Anyone can connect to a VPN. You can connect your computers, phones, or tablets to a VPN. It’s a flexible solution that doesn’t need you to switch internet provider or buy any new equipment.

You can also work with a VPN provider. Some are free, but paid VPN providers tend to offer proven security and greater networking speeds.

Make sure your online traffic is secure. We can set up a safe VPN for you. Give our experts a call at 319-227-7000.

2019-12-01T19:53:44-06:00December 31st, 2019|Cloud Services, Networking, Security|0 Comments

Are You Banking Online Safely?

Are You Banking Online Safely?

Are You Banking Online Safely?
Banks and credit card companies are making it easier for us to get money on the go. We can check account balances, pay bills, and transfer funds online. We no longer even have to go into a bank or visit an ATM to deposit checks. But are you banking online safely?

In the past, all we had to do was protect our PIN number (and remember it). Now, we need a mobile account password, too. The first precaution you can take is to have a strong, unique password. Can you believe that “password,” “123456,” and “letmein” remain common access credentials? Don’t do it! Also, avoid using things that a cyber-criminal might guess or be able to learn from your social media. This eliminates anniversaries and birth dates, pets, and children’s names.

Don’t reuse your banking password anywhere else. Sure, if you duplicate the password, it’s easier for you to remember, but, a bad actor could access your credentials for another site. Then, they have that same email and password combo to use to try on your banking or credit card site, too.

It’s also not a good idea to write down your passwords or keep track of them on a note in your phone. If you’re worried about remembering all your passwords, consider a password manager. A high-quality password manager can be a safe way to keep your passwords secret yet available. Top password managers use secure encryption for your access credentials.

Make sure you’re only banking using your own, secured devices. This means don’t check your balance or whether a payment cleared while in line at the coffee shop or in the airport. Don’t risk banking using a public WiFi network that a hacker could be accessing to steal sensitive data. You also want to avoid using shared computers to login to your financial data. A cybercafe or library computer could have a key-logger that tracks your login details for criminal use.

Watch out for phishing emails that look like they come from your bank, credit card company, or a tax agency. Criminals send urgent emails warning of strange activity or that you’re being audited to get you to react.

Don’t click on any link or download any attachments in an email that appears to be from a financial institution – they don’t send private data directly in emails these days. They will send you to a secure inbox on their site. Always type the institutions’ Web address into the address bar. Otherwise, you might go to a fake, mirrored site that looks legitimate but will rip you off.

Added security for online banking

Two-factor authentication can help protect your financial accounts. Various banks will set it up differently, but you should definitely take the time to set this up. You might have to identify an image you selected besides using your password. Or you might need to enter a code sent to another device (such as a text message to your phone).

The second level of authentication can be an annoyance in our convenience-first society. Still, it keeps your accounts secure, even if cyber-criminals access your password.

You work hard for your money, and you don’t want a cyber-criminal taking control of or emptying out your financial accounts.

Worried about securing your online activity at home or on mobile devices? We can help. Contact us today at 319-227-7000 for expert support securing your financial data.

2019-12-01T19:19:30-06:00December 24th, 2019|Security|0 Comments