Posts Tagged ‘Security’

Don’t Let a DDoS Attack Cut You Off From Your Money

DDoS attacks are mentioned more frequently in the news these days, but what are they?  The initials stand for “Distributed Denial of Service” and refer to cyber attacks which are performed by harnessing thousands of personal computers through spyware and malware and instructing them to navigate to a specific website, overloading the server and resulting in the website being inaccessible to legitimate users. 

While there may be any number of motives for such attacks, the goal is to render the targeted website useless for as long as possible.  When there are hints of a pending  attack, it is best to be proactive.  Internet rumors have indicated that a possible large-scale DDoS attack on American financial institutions might occur on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  As a precaution, anyone who transacts business on financial institution websites is encouraged to refrain from doing so on that day.  Plan ahead and schedule online transactions in advance if possible. If you need to transact on that day, consider physically going to a branch or calling the institution.

Generally, it is not a good idea to wait until the last minute to schedule an online payment or transfer.  Always look ahead and schedule transactions well in advance to give yourself a cushion in the event of unforeseen roadblocks.  You’ll also have peace of mind, which is a great benefit of thoughtful planning.  PFCU’s Online Banking and Bill Pay, for example, allow you to schedule one-time or recurring future payments and transfers and have options for all sorts of convenient reminder texts or e-mails.  The internet is a valuable tool in communication, organization, and information-gathering.  Just be careful not to rely on it to the extent that you can be affected by temporary interruptions in service.  Always have a backup plan.

There are more Safety and Security blog articles here.  To get fraud alerts as soon as we communicate them, “Like” our PasadenaFCU Facebook Page and/or follow us on Twitter @Pasadenafcu.  The Safety and Security tab of our website is a great place to read up on internet safety, too.

Data Breaches: The More You Know, The Safer You’ll Be

Phishing Prevention

Educate Yourself to Prevent Phishing

On April 4, 2011 online marketer Epsilon, a unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp., announced that it had experienced a data breach affecting approximately 2% of its 2,500 clients worldwide.  It is the largest data breach ever known to occur, affecting tens of millions of customers of companies from Disney, Target and Verizon to Chase and Citibank.  The information compromised consisted of the names and e-mail addresses of customers.  No account numbers were known to be involved. 

PFCU is not a customer of Epsilon, so our database and e-mail communications were not affected by the breach.

You may occasionally receive e-mails claiming to be from a store or financial institution you do not do business with asking you to verify information as though you are a customer.  The senders are “phishing”, or randomly targeting as many people as possible to find someone who actually has an account there and might fall for their scheme to gain sensitive information.  With the Epsilon breach, malicious hackers can use the names and e-mail addresses they’ve stolen to engage in a very specific type of phishing called “spear-phishing”.  By knowing the places people shop or have accounts, they can send targeted e-mails to actual customers that appear to be legitimate communication from the companies. They can thus attempt to trick people into giving them their account numbers or other important pieces of information.  This improves the effectiveness of the attempt.

Many of the companies involved have already communicated with their customers, advising them of how they intend to deal with the breach.  Companies will not send you e-mails asking you to verify personal information.  To be safe, always contact a company at the website or phone number you have on file for them.  Do not use links in an e-mail to direct you to any site which requires passwords or the inputting of personal data.  

PFCU has always taken a proactive approach in protecting the personal information of our members.  We have stringent firewalls, which we constantly monitor.  We recently unveiled our new Online Banking and Bill Pay with enhanced security features.  We asked members to select a site key, which is a custom picture that is visible when they log in to our website.  It is accompanied by a site phrase created by our member, which further personalizes the site.  Members who do not see these features when logging in should assume they are not accessing our actual site and contact us right away.  Members also had to select and answer several security questions.  While these steps can seem like an inconvenience while one is setting them up, the inconvenience of dealing with a compromised account is far worse.  Safety first, as the saying goes. 

Some of our members might remember the Heartland security breach in 2009, which affected our debit cards.  PFCU took an aggressive approach to protecting our members, closing and reissuing hundreds of cards, even though there had not yet been any fraudulent activity.  Many other financial institutions adopted a wait-and-see approach, which may have been more convenient for them, but may also have resulted in extra headaches for some of their customers when their accounts were raided.  PFCU takes your security seriously and will always take a cautious approach to protecting your money. 

Your money is safe at PFCU.

Safety First at the ATM

ATM, PIN, Safety, Security

Don't Let Others See Your PIN

On Sunday night, March 27, a young Moreno Valley woman was killed at a drive-up ATM machine.  As we grieve for her tragic loss,  it serves as a reminder to each of us to do what we can to protect ourselves and others as we go about our daily activities. 

ATM machines are convenient and easy to use.   As we drop by an ATM to get cash quickly, it can be easy to let our guard down.  Here are some quick and easy tips to help keep you safe:

-If the ATM you’re about to use doesn’t look right, don’t use it.  If you are at all uncomfortable, find another ATM.  PFCU members can text an address, intersection or zip code to 692667 to locate surcharge-free ATMsDroid and iPhone apps are also available to locate 7-Eleven V-Com machines available indoors, 24/7.

– Be wary of anything about the ATM that looks out of the ordinary, such as odd-looking or unfamiliar equipment.

– Be leery of a jammed ATM or persons surrounding the ATM, pretending to be technicians.

-If possible, use an indoor ATM machine, especially at night.  PFCU members can use any 7-Eleven, Costco, or Bank of the West ATM machine free of surcharges.  One of our ATMs is also located inside the Pasadena Police Department lobby.

-If you must use an outdoor ATM at night, ensure that it is well-lit, and that there are no shrubs or bushes or other large objects a person can hide behind nearby

-Bring someone with you when you use the machine, if possible

-Stay alert, look around you as you perform your transaction, multi-tasking is admirable, but this is not the time to be distracted with a cell phone call

-Have your ATM or Debit card in your hand and ready to use before approaching the machine

 -Leave your wallet in your pocket.

-If anyone suspicious starts to approach you, cancel your transaction and leave immediately

-If anyone follows you after you withdraw from an ATM, go to a crowded area and call the police

-If you use a machine in an enclosed area that requires your card to enter, do not allow anyone to follow you in

-Even though it’s a quick stop, don’t leave your engine running, your car doors unlocked or your keys in the ignition

-Immediately put your cash, ATM card and receipt away upon receiving them.  Do not count your cash at the machine, even inside a store or restaurant.  You don’t want anyone nearby to see how much cash you have.  Save your receipt. 

– Check your accounts regularly to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions.

– If your ATM card is lost or stolen, or you suspect fraudulent activity, promptly notify the Credit Union

-When using a drive-up ATM, ensure that all doors are locked and passenger windows are shut

-Try to avoid a drive-up ATM situated in such a way that your car is “trapped” from being able to drive away quickly if necessary.

-Using your free hand, shield the pin pad from the view of others when entering your PIN (Personal Identification Number)

-Memorize your PIN and never write it down

-When traveling, make sure you know the numeric version of your PIN, as some foreign ATMs do not include letters on the keypad

Debit cards are a safe, convenient alternative to carrying cash and are accepted at most stores and restaurants.  Traveler’s Checks are also great when going out of the country.  As much as possible, plan ahead.  When visiting a branch, try to anticipate instances when you will need cash and withdraw accordingly.  Many grocery stores will allow cash back on an ATM or debit card transaction and there is usually no fee.  Pick up a few incidentals or a pack of gum to receive cash in a secure location. 

Your safety is important to us.  Use common sense and don’t take chances.  It’s just not worth the risk.