Monday, July 10, 2017

Avoiding Malware, Phishing, and Spyware

Avoiding Malware, Phishing, and Spyware

Malware, spyware, and phishing prey upon unsuspecting citizens by attempting to collect personal information, oftentimes without an individual’s knowledge or consent. Not only does this invasive activity cause annoyance, it can result in identity theft, negatively impact your credit record, and even steal money from your bank account. Online and mobile banking, internet financial transactions, and more have become modern conveniences many people enjoy, but the rise of online criminal activity makes it more important than ever to take precautions to protect yourself and your finances.

Phishing, spyware, and malware share the goal of stealing information, but understanding the differences between them helps us fight them more effectively.

  • Phishing is an attempt to collect information or money by pretending to be a trustworthy source. Examples include emails that purport to be from government agencies and financial institutions, but ask for personal information such as passwords or bank account numbers. Often, phishing emails contain links to fake websites that appear reputable, in hopes the recipient will enter personal information. Some links in phishing email take the unsuspecting recipient to a site that installs malware.
  • Malware refers to unwanted and unfriendly software installed on another computer in order to disrupt and gain access to its system, and oftentimes, to personal information.
  • Spyware, a form of malware, logs a user’s keystrokes, browsing habits, and more without his or her knowledge, and in this way, collects information such as passwords, account numbers, and more.   

To combat these intrusions and protect your privacy:

  • Invest in an anti-virus service that has a reputation for quality, making sure it includes a firewall, anti-malware, and anti-spyware technology.
  • Download the latest software and security updates for your operating system and anti-virus service. Set both to “automatic updates” so you never miss the latest patches and security upgrades.
  • Any email requesting personal information should be treated with extreme caution. Do not open attachments, reply, or click links in these messages. When in doubt about the email’s authenticity, call the business or institution to check.
  • Avoid visiting suspicious websites.
  • Set your browser security level to “medium” or above, and clean out your internet cache regularly.

McHenry Savings Bank cares about protecting our customers from identity theft, financial scams, and fraudulent banking activity. If you notice unauthorized activity on your accounts, or receive suspicious emails purporting to be from our institution, please call us right away.

McHenry Savings Bank has been serving the banking needs of the people of McHenry County, Illinois, for over 60 years. With branches in McHenry, Richmond, and Johnsburg, we are a full-service financial institution with personal, commercial, and investment services. Please visit our website, or call us at (815) 385-3000 for more information.