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Take precautions against cyber attacks
cyber web
Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Representatives from Ascend Federal Credit Union were the guest speakers at the monthly McMinnville – Warren County Chamber member luncheon Wednesday to spread the word about what steps can be taken to safeguard one’s self from online threats.

McMinnville branch manager Amanda Blackburn and Donna Anderson, AVP of branch delivery, spoke to the attendees about some of the threats everyone who ventures online should be aware of.

Cyber attacks are assaults on computers and networks. The most common weapons used in these assaults are malware and phishing.  Malware is software designed to damage and gain access to computers. Phishing is using various tactics to trick users into revealing personal information and often comes in the form of texts or e-mails designed to get the recipient to act without thinking. “Cyber criminals have various motivations for their attacks but their main goal is the same – to gain information,” Blackburn said.

Cyber crime is a growing problem that doesn’t look to be going away. “The FBI received 847,000 complaints about cyber crimes in 2021. That’s a seven percent increase over the previous year,” Anderson said. 

Blackburn and Anderson presented 12 key tips to help protect against cyber attacks:

1. Secure your debit and credit card information.

2. Never disclose personal or financial information by phone, text or email.

3. Don’t reply to suspicious emails. Even clicking unsubscribe could leave the user susceptible to fraud.

4. Be aware of website spoofing. Always check the web address before entering personal information and consider typing in the address rather than following a link from a suspicious source.

5. Password protect mobile devices and change passwords periodically.

6. Use passwords that are difficult to guess. Consider using two-factor authentication.

7. Install and update virus protection software.

8. Avoid logging in to sensitive accounts on public Wi-Fi.

9. Do not click on links in emails if they are not from a trusted source.

10. Avoid sharing personal and financial information on social media.

11. Use a paper shredder for any sensitive documents. Ascend is hosting a shredding day on Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. for anyone who doesn’t have a shredder and wants to take advantage of this opportunity.

12. Be educated about cyber attacks and the latest scams.

Ascend Federal Credit Union offers fraud protection and has a variety of methods to protect its customers and often can catch and prevent attempted cyber attacks. Ascend encourages customers to add fraud alerts that are offered and to monitor accounts and quickly report any discrepancies.

Ascend Federal Credit Union can be reached at (800) 342-3086.