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Cyber Security & Data Privacy Awareness Resources

Bristol County Savings Bank would like to provide some common steps you can take to stay safe online and protect yourself and your family in your everyday lives. We encourage you to share these tips with others, including family, friends and neighbors.

Staying Safe Online

Here are some basic, common steps you can take to stay safe online and protect yourself and your family in your everyday lives.

Securing Yourself: Cyber attackers have learned that the easiest way to get something is to simply ask for it. As such, common sense is your best defense. If an e-mail or phone call seems odd, suspicious, or too good to be true, it may be an attack. Here are some examples:

Phishing emails are emails designed to fool you into opening an infected attachment or clicking on a malicious link. These emails can be very convincing; they may appear to come from a friend or organization you know. Sometimes cyber attackers even use details from your social media accounts to craft customized phishing emails.

Someone calls you pretending to be Microsoft tech support. They claim that your computer is infected, when they are really just cyber criminals that want access to your computer or want you to buy their fake anti-virus software.

You receive a robocall, a recorded message instead of a live person, with a sales message. This is most likely a scam.

Someone sends a text message to your mobile device promising free gifts or asking you to click a link to update account information or share personal information. Clicking a link that you weren’t expecting to receive can install malware on your device to collect information to be sold to identity thieves.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides information and tips for Limiting Unwanted Calls & Emails which includes information on robocalls and spam. Their Online Security site also provides additional information for protecting your devices and yourself online.

Securing Your Home Network: Your Wi-Fi router is a physical device that controls who can connect to your wireless network at home. Here are some tips to protecting your digital home:

Always change the default admin password on your Wi-Fi router to a strong password only you know.

Configure your Wi-Fi network so that if anyone wants to join it, they have to use a password. In addition, always configure your wireless network to use the latest encryption.

Be aware of all the devices connected to your home network, including baby monitors, gaming consoles, TVs or perhaps even your car.

Visit Securing Your Wireless Network for additional information.

Securing Your Computers/Devices: Here are some steps to protect any device connected to your home network:

Ensure all devices are protected by a strong PIN or passcode and always running the latest version of their software. Whenever possible, enable automatic updating.

If possible, have two computers at home, one for parents and one for kids. If you are sharing a computer, make sure you have separate accounts for everyone and that kids do not have privileged access.

Computers should have a firewall and anti-virus installed, enabled and running the latest version.

Before disposing of computer or mobile devices, be sure they are wiped of any personal information.

Securing Your Accounts/Passwords: You most likely have a tremendous number of accounts online and on your devices and computers. Here are some key steps to protecting them:

Always use long passwords that are hard to guess. Use passphrases when possible. There are passwords that have multiple words, such as “Where Is My Coffee?”

Use a different password for each of your accounts and devices. Can’t remember all of your strong passwords? We recommend you use a password manager to securely store them. This is a computer program that securely stores all of your passwords in an encrypted vault.

Use two-step verification whenever possible. Two-step verification is when you need a password and something else to log in to your account, such as a code sent to your smartphone.

On social media sites, post only what you want the public to see. Assume anything you post will eventually be seen by your parents or your boss.

Review your privacy settings wherever and however you go online. Visit The National Cybersecurity Alliance’s Manage Your Privacy Settings for instructions on updating your privacy settings on your devices and online services.

What To Do When Hacked: No matter how secure you are, sooner or later, you may be hacked:

Create regular backups of all your personal information. If your computer or mobile device is hacked, the only way you can recover all of your personal information may be from backups.

If one of your online accounts has been hacked, immediately log in and change the password to a strong, unique password. If you no longer have access, contact the company.

Monitor your credit cards. If you see any changes you do not recognize, call the credit card company right away.

We encourage you to share these steps with others, including your family, friends and neighbors.

Secure Your Connected Devices

More and more of our home devices – including gaming consoles, televisions, thermostats, door locks, alarm systems, coffee machines, and refrigerators to name a few are now connected to the Internet. This enables us to control our devices on our smartphones, no matter our location, which can in turn save us time and money while providing convenience and safety. These advances in technology are innovative and intriguing; however, they also pose a new set of security risks.

Follow these simple steps to secure your connected devices:

Secure Your Wi-Fi network:
Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network, and your digital devices, by changing the factory-set default password and username.

Enable strong authentication:
Always enable stronger authentication for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major e-mail, social media and financial accounts. Stronger authentication (e.g., multi-factor authentication that can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device) helps verify that a user has authorized access to an online account.

Keep a clean machine:
Keep software up to date and install updates to apps and your device’s operating system as soon as they are available. Keeping the software on your devices up to date will prevent attackers from being able to take advantage of known vulnerabilities.

Know your apps:
Be sure to review and understand the details of an app before downloading and installing it. Also, check to make sure the vendor or creator of the app is reputable. Be aware that apps may request access to your location and personal information. Delete any apps that you do not use regularly to increase your security.

Consider what you share:
Limit the amount of personal information you share about yourself online. Your full name, phone number, address, school or work location, and other sensitive information should not be published widely. Disable geo-tagging features that let people online know where you are. Limit your online social networks to the people you know in real life, and set your privacy preferences to the strictest settings.

There are lots of ways to be safe at home. Click the links for additional tips on Creating a Cyber Secure Home and Securing Your Wireless Network.

We encourage you to share these steps with others, including your family, friends and neighbors.

Keeping Senior Citizens Safe Online

Senior Citizens are online too

Increasingly, older Americans use the Internet to get involved in community groups, shop, plan travel, manage finances and keep in touch with family and friends. The Internet helps senior citizens connect with society, bringing vital information and resources to them. For instance, they can bank and shop from the convenience of their homes. There are many sites geared toward the needs and interests of senior citizens, and growth of such sites is expected to continue.

What are the risks?
There are risks associated with being online, and, sadly, many scammers target senior citizens.

Older Americans should be wary of the following types of emails, websites, or social media messages that:

  • Offer “free” gifts, prizes or vacations, or exclaim, “You’re a winner!”
  • Offer discount prescription medications or other “can’t miss” deals.
  • Appear to be from friends or family members, but the message is written in a style not usually used by that person, has numerous misspellings, or otherwise seems unusual. This is an indication your friend or family member’s account may have been hacked.
  • Set ultimatums such as “your account will be closed,” or “the deal will expire” to create a sense of urgency, and trick the victim into providing personal information.

Cyberbullying of Senior Citizens

Though there is a lot of focus on cyberbullying among children and teens, cyberbullying affects senior citizens as well.

Cyberbullying (mostly through e-mail) of seniors can take several forms, but the most common are:

  • Emotional abuse with rage, threats, accusations, and belittling comments, often followed with periods of silence or ignoring the victim.
  • Financial abuse aimed at obtaining the victim’s account information, setting up online access to their accounts, and stealing their money.

Speaking out against cyberbullying can be particularly difficult for seniors who may not even know what the term means. As with victims of any age, seniors may feel violated and powerless, be confused and in denial over what’s happening, feel shame and self-blame for being a victim, and fear even more bullying or being ignored if they speak out. Additionally, according to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, in many cases, seniors are the victims of cyberbullying by family members.

For More Information:
Visit these sites geared toward the needs and interests of senior citizens for additional tips and information:

Keeping Our Children Safe Online
In today’s world, digitally connected families must think about safety and security both online and offline. Every child is taught basic safety and security, like not talking to strangers and looking both ways before crossing the street. Enable kids to make the most of technology while being able to use it sensibly, securely and safely. Teaching young people easy-to-learn life lessons for online safety and privacy begins with parents leading the way.


Talk to your kids about the risks they face being online and encourage them to engage in conduct they can be proud of. Some tips to remember:

  • Online actions have consequences
  • Limit what they share
  • Encourage online manners
  • Limit access to your kids’ profiles

Visit these resources for information and tips about cyberbullying, child identity theft, social networking, etc.:

Talk about what you discovered with your family, and engage them on a regular basis to share what you’ve learned about cybersecurity and privacy.

Protecting Your Mobile Devices

12 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Device

Your mobile device provides convenient access to your email, bank and social media accounts. Unfortunately, it can potentially provide the same convenient access for criminals. Bristol County Savings Bank recommends following these tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.

  1. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  2. Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  3. Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  4. Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
  5. Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  6. Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a Social Security number on your mobile device.
  7. Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  8. Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  9. Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  10. Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
  11. Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
  12. Report any suspected fraud to Bristol County Savings Bank immediately.

Securing Your Business
While attackers are using new tactics and tricks, their strategies remain the same. According to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigation Report 61% of data breach victims were businesses with less than 1,000 employees.


What actions can you take to create a security and privacy conscious culture within your business? How can you protect your business and the personal information of your customers?

Visit the informational resources for businesses below for tips from the National Cybersecurity Alliance, FTC, FCC, DHS and SBA.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness
During tax season, tax identity thieves are eager to claim your tax refund as their own. There are many ways tax scammers might target you. Tax identity theft has been the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past five years.


Tax Identity Theft

This kind of identity theft occurs when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information to get a tax refund. It can also happen when someone uses your social security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return.

IRS Imposter Scams

This time scammers aren’t pretending to be you – they’re posing as the IRS. They call you up saying you owe taxes, and threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay right away. They might know all of part of your social security number, and they can rig caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from Washington, DC. Leaving you no time to think, they tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number right away.

The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards and wire transfers, and won’t ask for credit card information over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they usually do it by mail.

You can report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration online or at 800-366-4484, and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

IRS.gov/identitytheft is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. You can report identity theft, get step-by-step advice, sample letters, and your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. These resources will help you fix problems caused by identity theft.

The IRS provides tax identity theft information and guidance for individuals, tax professionals and businesses at IRS.gov/identitytheft.

Visit our security page for additional information on how you can protect yourself online. Protecting our customers’ personal financial information is a top priority for us at Bristol County Savings Bank.