Canadian Bankers Association

Canadian Bankers Association

October 02, 2009 14:22 ET

Learn How to Avoid Online Threats and Protect Personal Information During Cyber Security Awareness Month

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 2, 2009) - The Internet has made it easier than ever to conduct business, keep in touch with friends and manage our finances with greater speed, efficiency and convenience. Unfortunately, criminals also use the Internet to try to gain access to personal and financial information.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and, to raise awareness among Canadians, banks have teamed up to provide information, consumer tips and an interactive quiz to educate consumers about online threats so they can protect themselves and their computers.

"Banks and other businesses have sophisticated security systems in place that are very difficult to overcome, which is why criminals are online trying to get confidential, personal information directly from unsuspecting Canadians," said Nancy Hughes Anthony, President and CEO of the Canadian Bankers Association. "Once the criminals get information such as passwords, personal banking and credit card details and social insurance numbers, that information can be used or sold to others to commit identity theft and financial fraud."

Protect yourself online

Online browsing habits may unknowingly put individuals in danger of downloading malicious codes or viruses or making personal information available to strangers. Fortunately there are a number of steps individuals can take to protect themselves and their home computers:

- Protect your home computer - make sure that you install anti-virus, anti-spyware and Internet firewall tools purchased from trusted retailers or suppliers. Keep these programs enabled and continuously updated to protect your computer against malicious software.

- Be wary of downloading free files, programs, software or screensavers - malicious software, like spyware (that secretly monitors what you do online) and keystroke loggers (that secretly track what you are typing) can be hidden within the downloaded file and used to access personal information, such as passwords and financial information.

- Protect your passwords - ensure that you create strong and unique passwords for each Internet log-in identity. Pet names, birthdates and simple number combinations (e.g. 1234) are examples of predictable passwords that can be easily "cracked" by criminals. Avoid using the same log-in passwords for multiple websites, especially when they access websites with sensitive personal or financial information.

- Be wary of unsolicited pop-up warnings and security alerts - Pop-up messages can be used to distribute malware, so be familiar with your computer's security alerts and learn to recognize alerts that may be fraudulent. If you receive an unfamiliar or suspicious warning or security message, do not click anywhere on the screen (including the 'Cancel' button in the on-screen dialogue box) which may contain malware. Instead, use Alt+F4 or Ctrl+Alt+Delete and launch Task Manager to close the window.

- Ensure that you are in a secure environment when doing financial transactions online - look for the closed-lock or unbroken-key icons on your browser when entering credit card or other sensitive data. If you don't see these icons, or if you see the broken key or the open padlock, your transaction is not being securely transmitted across the Internet and the website may be a fraudulent one.

- Clear your cache - when you visit different websites, the website addresses are stored in the cache, or memory, of your computer. Make sure you clear the cache of your browser after visiting secure sites so that nobody else can view any confidential information you may have transmitted.

The Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 50 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 263,400 employees. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy. The Association also promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions. www.cba.ca

Contact Information

  • Canadian Bankers Association
    Andrew Addison
    (416) 362-6093, ext. 220 or Cell: (416) 587-7733
    aaddison@cba.ca