Computer Security and Virus Prevention

Computer VirusComputer Security Tips

We recommend that you run high quality security software on your computers to protect your work and private data from viruses, spyware, and other security threats. When it comes to security, there is no substitute for quality. See below for our recommended tips. If any of the following is difficult for you, get an IT Expert to do it for you.

Consider doing the following or so your work/data is not compromised (think of it as locking your front door):
  • Install reputable anti-virus software: Be sure to regularly update your 'virus definitions' e.g. once per week )
  • Install a firewall and malware applications: Firewalls will help monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic. Malware programs will help detect and remove unwanted spyware/malware. Many anti-virus packages include both a firewall and anti-malware.  If not, consider purchasing a product from a reputable source.  Each component provides an additional layer of security.
  • Beware of attachments: Do not open email attachments you are not expecting. Viruses come with some very nasty messages to trick you into opening the attachment e.g. "Your email account has been cancelled, see attachment for details". Even worse, the virus looks like it comes from an email address you recognize e.g. from [email protected] (where 'your domain' is the domain name that you use). Virus attachments can have the following 'file extension': .exe, .pif. If you receive a .zip attachment and open it - make sure it doesn't contain a file with one of those extensions. Do not open attachments you haven't requested, even if they appear to be from people you know.

Why do I receive, notices that emails from me could not be delivered - when I didn't send the email? How did someone else send an email that looked like it was from me? Why do such emails seem to be from someone who is not in my organization?

This is usually caused by a virus on someone else's computer sending the emails, but making it look like the emails are from you, or to put it another way: A virus that spoofs the 'from address'. The important (and annoying) thing to note is that the virus is probably not on your computer, it is on someone else's. So even if you have quality anti-virus software that keeps your computer clean, there is someone else out there who's computer is infected and sending these emails out.

Best Cyber Security Practices

  • Do's
    • Always use complex passwords that also meet the established password requirements – creating a phrase you will remember like “Ilovecoffeeinthemorningwithespresso!” is more secure for your accounts. You may also be asked to change your password from time to time, or should consider changing it yourself. Also, do not use the same password for Online Banking that you use for other sites, particularly commerce sites. 
    • Check your accounts regularly to confirm you recognize all transactions and report suspicious card activity immediately.
    • Always use all protection methods offered to you – Chip card, two-factor authentication, immediate transaction alerts (Visa Purchase alerts), Mobile Wallet, etc. 
    • Always be on the lookout for fake charity scams and make sure you verify the legitimacy of a charity first. 
    • Always be vigilant when using ATM’s or any other card swiping devices and check for skimming devices. 
    • Update your device operating system, browsers and apps to the latest versions.
    • Install a firewall and antivirus software and keep them up to date. 
    • Always back up your data frequently.
    • Use the screen lock on your mobile device for an added layer of security and set it to lock after a certain period of time.
    • Turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it. 
    • Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi – especially if you are conducting financial transactions. 
  • Don'ts
    • Don’t send gift cards as payment or to make donations – scammers will ask for gift cards because they are easily untraceable and funds are available immediately.
    • Don’t cash checks for strangers or return funds for overpayment – scammers will send fraudulent checks and request that you return a portion of the check to them. Many times, you have access to the funds immediately but then the check can still be returned unpaid. 
    • Don’t respond to emails that you believe may be a phishing attempt or open any suspicious attachments. 
    • Don’t include any personal information in emails, un-secure electronic communication, or on social media.
    • Don’t reuse the same User ID and password for different sites. 
    • Never give out your full Social Security number or your debit or credit card PIN to someone who calls you, particularly if they say they are calling from the credit union or on behalf of a financial institution.  JHFCU will NEVER call and ask for your Social Security number or PIN (scammers will try to do that). 

Malware FAQs

  • What is malware?
    Malware – formed from the words malicious and software – is a general term used by computer professionals to refer to many different kinds of computer software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s knowledge or consent. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware and many other malicious and unwanted software types. 
  • How can a malware infection occur?
    Malware can infect a user’s computer through many paths, including pop-up messages that ask users to download things, links in web pages or e-mails, infected websites and many other methods that can sometimes even be invisible to the user. Malware is often used in conjunction with phishing scams.
  • What are the consequences of malware?
    At a minimum, malware is a nuisance, sometimes displaying unwanted advertising or using a user’s computer to send spam. At its worst, malware has the potential to steal personal and financial information ranging from browsing habits to e-mail address lists to online banking passwords and even identity theft.
  • How can you protect yourself against malware?

    While there is no single fool-proof method, users should keep their anti-virus software up to date and running and keep their operating systems and applications updated with the latest patches from the manufacturers.

    Other common suggestions include exercising extreme caution with e-mail links and attachments and using firewalls to protect information on personal computers. Also look for login windows or messages that appear strange or different, which could be signs that your computer has been affected with malware.

  • What should I do if I'm affected by malware?

    Remember to always remain vigilant to the risks of malware, phishing and other suspicious activities by taking steps to minimize risk.

    1. Make sure your PC is updated and secure
    2. Be very skeptical of random pop-up windows, error messages and attachments
    3. Remove spam from where you can
    4. Think twice before installing any new software