Internet Best Practices
The Internet has quickly become the world’s primary communication tool. From phones, tablets, and computers, to home automation and security, the number of devices added to the World Wide Web is increasing at a staggering rate. By 2020, some estimate that over 10 billion devices worldwide will be interconnected through this fascinating network.
Like drivers on public roads, individuals with their devices accessing the Internet are ultimately responsible for their own safety. All of the safety devices on a vehicle won’t help you if you drive off a cliff; much like your computer’s antivirus software won’t help you if all of your computer account passwords are the same. So what can you do to minimize your risks while surfing the Internet?
1. Keep your Operating System and its software up to date.
Your operating system (Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, Google Android for example) is at the core of everything that you do on any computing device. Each manufacturer of these systems regularly sends updates to keep them secure from continuously emerging threats. Please ensure to keep your systems up to date at all times.
2. Don’t connect to networks that you don’t trust fully.
The use of wireless networks has become common in recent years. It is important to understand that wireless networks can often be easily penetrated by unauthorized users. It is also important to understand that any other device connected to the same wireless network as your device could possibly gain access or control of your device if sufficient protection is not used. If unsure of a wireless network, do not connect your device to it.
3. Use a reputable antivirus application, and understand its protection technologies.
Antivirus software has become very affordable, and often includes protection for several devices, and device types. Research your options, and address any error messages that your antivirus might display. https://www.av-test.org/en/ is a great resource to learn which products are best for your device(s). As viruses and malware have evolved during the years, so have antivirus programs. It is important to understand how your antivirus works and what tools it uses to keep you safe. Antivirus manufacturers’ websites all have great support and learning tools for their customers.
4. Don’t use a device that accesses important or sensitive websites for illegal or potentially illegitimate activities.
If you use the Internet for any type of illegal or illegitimate activities, your device will surely be infected with some kind of malware/spyware/virus etc. Such activities include, but are not limited to, pornography, illegal music or video downloading etc. The use of that same device for private or sensitive data access, such as Ideal Savings’ website and online banking, could put you at risk of data or identity theft.
5. Keep an eye on the address bar.
The address bar of your browser is normally located at the top of your browser’s window. It indicates the address that your website is using. Google.ca is an example of an address. While surfing, glance up at your address bar periodically to ensure that you have not been redirected to a malicious, but similar looking website. Although addresses will normally change as you visit different pages, the beginning of the address will always stay the same unless you are redirected to a different location. For example, when searching at www.google.ca, once your search is done, the address bar might show something like https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=google+searching, but you will notice that www.google.ca is still at the beginning of the address.
6. Use passwords correctly.
Passwords are like locks on doors. If you don’t have one, you will be robbed. If someone with bad intentions gets your keys or password, you will be robbed. Lock your doors, and lock your online accounts.Current computers can crack simple passwords in seconds or minutes. Have too many passwords to remember? Use patterns or tricks to create them. Change these patterns a few times per year to keep your passwords fresh. For example, you might decide that in 2016, you will put three dollar symbols at the beginning of your passwords and three asterisks at the end of your passwords. This simple idea is easy to remember and type, and adds many characters to your passwords. Ensure your passwords meet the following, at a very minimum, in order to increase your security online.
- Should have 8 characters at minimum
- Should contain letters of both upper and lower case, numbers, special symbols
- Should not contain dictionary words
- Should not include any of you or your family members’ names
- Should not contain common keyboard sequences, such as “qwerty123” or “;lkj;lkj”
- Should not contain personal information such as pet or kid names, address or phone info etc
Ideal Savings’ Online Banking
We at Ideal Savings take data protection very seriously. Our corporate networks are secured by multiple layers of security hardware and software. Access to these networks are limited by job function, continuously monitored and tracked, and audited regularly as part of our internal policies.
Ideal Savings Online Banking site allows access to our associates’ account data. All information shared between your device and this website is encrypted using the latest technologies available. This means that should your connection to our site be intercepted somehow, your communication with the site cannot be read or deciphered.
Using the latest, up-to-date web browser for your device (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari etc) gives you the best protection for online banking.
As mentioned above, however, a strong password is just as important. Strong passwords are hard to guess, contain more than 8 characters including special characters, and are changed regularly. In addition to your password, you will be prompted to create Personal Verification Questions (PVQs) which must be answered randomly after your password has been entered. Again, your PVQs should be hard to guess, and never be shared.
About Browsers and Encryption
There are many different web browsers on the market today. The most popular are Safari®, Google Chrome® and Microsoft Internet Explorer®. These products come in dozens of different versions, and each has a different degree of security.
Web browsers deliver security by encrypting all of the information that travels between your computer and a server into unreadable messages. Even if they are somehow intercepted on the way from your computer to an online service, these encrypted messages are meaningless. Only when they reach their destination can they be decrypted back into useable messages by the server.
Currently, 128-bit encryption is the most common kind used for web browsing. It’s called that because the keys that it uses to encode messages are 128 bits long (that means 2128 possible keys!). A computer would likely need millions of years to crack such a number.
That’s why our Ideal Savings website hosted by Carpathia uses 128 (or even 256-bit encryption whenever possible), and that’s why in order to use Carpathia Online, you need to make sure you’re using a minimum 128-bit encryption capable version of your web browser, whether it’s from Apple®, Google® or from Microsoft®.
Communication with Ideal Savings
Although the majority of your dealings with Ideal Savings will be via our website and online banking, there may be occasions where you will need to contact us with questions or changes to your account.
Email can be used as well. Please note that often, email messages travel over the Internet in plain text (ie. not encrypted). Should a message be intercepted along the way (through virus infected devices or unprotected networks), its contents and any attachment(s) could be accessed in full. Please do not include any sensitive information in email messages to Ideal Savings’ staff.