• SECURITY CENTER
COMPUTER PROTECTION - IS YOUR COMPUTER SECURE?
If the computer you are currently using is not protected, identity thieves and other
fraudsters may be able to get access and steal your personal information.
If you are using safety measures and good practices to protect your home computer,
you can protect your privacy and your family. Here are some tips Provident would
like to suggest to help you lower your risk while you’re online.
Suggestions from Provident Bank
Install and use a firewall
Definition: A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that blocks hackers
from entering and using your computer.
Hackers search the Internet in a similar manner as telemarketers automatically dial
random phone numbers. They send out a ping (call) to thousands of computers and
wait for a response. Firewalls prevent your computer from responding to these
unsolicited calls. A firewall blocks communications to and from sources you don’t
permit. This is especially important if you have a high-speed Internet connection, like
DSL or cable.
Some computer operating systems have built-in firewalls that may be shipped in the
“off” mode. Ensure that your firewall is on. To always be effective, your firewall must be set up
correctly and updated regularly. You can check your online “Help” feature for specific
Install and use anti-virus software
Anti-virus software helps to protect your computer from viruses that can destroy your
data, slow down/ crash your computer, or allow spammers to send email from your
account. Anti-virus protection scans your computer and your incoming email for
viruses, and then removes them. Anti-virus software must be updated regularly to
cope with the latest “bugs” (viruses) circulating on the Internet. Most anti-virus
software includes a feature to download updates automatically while you are online.
Always make sure that the software is continually running and checking your system
for viruses, especially if you download files from the Web or are checking your email.
Set your anti-virus software to check for viruses when you first turn on your computer.
You should also set the anti-virus software to scan your complete system at least
twice a month.
Install and use anti-spyware software
Spyware is software installed without your consent or knowledge that has the ability
to monitor your online activities and collect your personal information while you are
surfing the Web. Certain types of spyware, called keyloggers, record everything you
type in – including your passwords, credit card numbers, and financial information.
Signs that your computer may be infected with spyware include a sudden influx of
pop-up ads, being taken to websites you don’t want to go to, and slower
Spyware protection is included in some anti-virus software products. Review your
anti-virus software documentation for information on how to activate the spyware
protection options. You also purchase separate anti-spyware software programs.
Keep your anti-spyware software up to date and run it regularly.
To avoid spyware in the first place, download software only from sites you know and
trust. Piggybacking spyware is often an unseen cost of many “free” programs. Do not
click on links in pop-up windows or in spam email.
Update and maintain your system and browser to protect your privacy
Hackers are continually searching and trying to find flaws and holes in operating
systems and browsers. In order to protect your computer and all of your information
on it, set the security settings in your system and browser at medium or higher.
Review the Tools or Options menus for how to do this. Install updates to your system
and browser regularly. You should consider taking advantage of automatic updating
if it is available. Windows Update is a service offered by Microsoft. It will
automatically download and install software updates to the Microsoft Windows
Operating System, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and will also deliver security
updates to you. Software patching can also be run automatically for other systems,
including the Macintosh Operating System.
Secure your home wireless network
If you have a wireless network in your home, make sure you take precautions to
secure it against hacking. Encrypt your home wireless communications. Select a
wireless router that has an encryption feature and turn it on. WPA encryption is
considered stronger than WEP. Your computer, router, and other equipment must
use the same encryption type. If your router enables identifier broadcasting, be sure
to disable it. Note the SSID name so you can connect your computers to the network
manually. Hackers know the pre-set passwords of this kind of equipment. Be sure to
change the default identifier on your router and the default administrative password.
You may want to turn off your wireless network when you are not using it.
Remember that public “hot spots” found in many stores, restaurants and hotels may
not be secure. It’s safest to avoid accessing or sending sensitive personal or
financial information over a public wireless network.