5 ways to protect yourself from hacking.

Man with notepad, mobile phone, and computer.

A few good habits go a long way.

Online banking is a great convenience. We now offer so many services online that you could do most of your banking sitting at home (or out in the park, or wherever you like). But anything that happens online can be hacked by the bad guys, if you’re not careful.

Keep hackers at bay with a few common-sense precautions. You needn’t worry, as long as you keep the following in mind.

Coffee shops are for coffee, not banking. In most of them, you access the internet through an unsecured wireless connection—the digital equivalent of a wide-open gate. Hackers lurking in the next booth can ride right into your account if you’re not careful. Same goes for hotels, airports and other public wifi spots. If you’re going to use wifi to do online banking, make sure it is your home wifi, using your super-secure password. Speaking of passwords, see the next item.

Make your password a good one, and change it often. If you’re wondering what we mean by “good,” it might help if we give examples of “bad.” Your birthday is bad. Your name is bad. 123456 is really, really bad. Much better would be the first letter of each word of a line from your favorite song, with a number and a symbol thrown in for good measure. In three months, pick another song and change your password. Gotta stay ahead of the bad guys.

Beware clicking through emails. It’s hard not to click on a link that promises a reward on the other side. But clicks are hackers’ secret weapon. They send out emails that look so real, but are actually traps. If you’re tempted to click on a link in an email, just call the company it came from—or seemed to come from. In most cases, you’ll find that trustworthy companies are not sending out emails asking you to click a link.

Keep an eye on your accounts. It’s not hard to take a look at recent activity. (If you’d like to know how to do that, click here.) If you see a charge you know you didn’t make, it’s time to raise a red flag. Checking activity is especially smart after you’ve done some online shopping.

Don’t be annoyed by those annoying update messages. When you’re asked to update your operating system, it is often to implement patches that enhance security. When hackers come up with devious tricks, responsible manufacturers write anti-trick software to block the bad guys.

Questions? We’re happy to help. Call or come by any time.

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