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Reset Passwords When You Reset Clocks

October 26, 2016

Identity theft is a real threat to consumers in today’s world, and its damages can take years to repair. Even though we live in a low crime area, Montanans still need to be aware of  cyber security. A few easy adjustments to the way you protect and share your data can dramatically reduce your risk of having confidential information stolen. Here are a few tips:
Reset Your Password When You Reset Your Clocks
This November, use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder to update all your passwords. If you’re serious about keeping your information secure, changing your passwords at least a couple of times a year, using the time change reminder, is a good starting point.  If you want to get fancy, change with the first day of each season for a total of four times a year.
Review Your Transactions Regularly
Look through your transactions and make sure you recognize all account activity as your own.  At a minimum you should do this with your regular account statement.  Better yet, enroll in online banking and make a review of your transactions part of your daily or weekly routine.  This is an important tool in stopping fraud early!
Check for Viruses and Malware
Use personal firewalls and trusted anti-virus software to protect your computer from viruses and malware. Make sure you either purchase software or download free software from a source you can verify as trustworthy.
Log In With Trusted Wireless Connections Whenever Possible
Coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels often reduce their wireless networks’ security settings to allow customers easier access. Be careful about using unsecured wireless connections to transmit personal information, and only do it if you need to. If you use a wireless connection at home, make sure you secure it.
Password Or Fingerprint Protect Your Mobile Devices
If you use your mobile device for online banking, it’s a good idea to lock down access as an additional layer of security. Use a numeric or text-based password (or fingerprint if you choose) on your phone or mobile device, and make sure to use a different password than you do for anything else.
Use a Strong Password
A strong password contains upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Make your passwords at least 8 characters long, and do not store them directly on your computer or in your email. If you write them down and don’t store them in a password manager, make sure to keep the list in a secret and secure location.
Use a Unique Password for Each Website

Many people use one password across all their online access forms. If one of your accounts gets hacked and that account shares a password with others, then the hacker just gained access to all the information you store online.
Choose a Unique Security Question
Choose something that only you know, such as your best friend’s name from elementary school or favorite ice cream flavor.
Don’t Respond to Email Requesting Personal Information
Even if it appears to be from your bank! This includes calling any phone number in the email, or clicking on a link. Banks, credit card companies, and the IRS will not request confidential information via email. If you’re not sure if the source of an email is legitimate, independently verify contact information using the publicly listed contact info for the business.  
Check for Secure Website (https) Version
When you access a site that requests your personal information, such as a banking or brokerage website, check to make sure it’s secure. You can do this by looking at the URL bar at the top of the page. If you visit, and the web address in the URL bar begins with https:// as opposed to http://, you’re viewing our secure website. A closed padlock will also appear next to the https:// in your URL bar. 
Use Your Personal Computer For Purchases and Online Banking

Public computers may have “malware” – software installed that captures users’ passwords, PINs, and other personal information. Whenever possible, use your own computer to access your bank accounts online. If you MUST use a public computer to sign into your account, make sure you:
•             Always completely sign out of your account.
•             Clear forms, passwords, browser cache, and cookies.
Perform Regular Browser and Operating System Updates
The next time your browser asks you to update, while it may be tempting to click “Remind me again tomorrow,” just do it! The short process of restarting your browser and installing the latest version could save your personal information from being released to the world – Internet browsers are always being updated with patches that improve security and it’s important to keep up-to-date.
Only Click on Links or Download Software From Websites You Know and Trust
Clicking on links from the Internet carries the risk of loading malicious software onto your computer, tablet or smartphone. Only get software from sites you’re familiar with or directly from your smartphone manufacturer’s Application Store. If you’re not sure, you can always Google the name of the software and read about other peoples’ experiences with it – if reviews are negative or there isn’t much information surrounding it, it’s probably not a safe choice.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe! If you have any questions about your account and the steps we take to keep it secure, please don’t hesitate to contact us.