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Insurance Services Financial Planning

Educate Yourself

Educate Yourself

The retailer store Target has notified authorities of a data security breach. The breach occurred between November 27th and December 15th. We advise our Members to monitor their account activity, which can easily be done through home banking www.gfafcu.com or our audio response 1-800-955-6609. If you notice suspicious or fraudulent activity please contact us at 978-632-2542 or 1-800-264-5578.

Thank you.

 
 

GFA's Education Program 

GFA strives to provide our communities with important free information and education. Check back to this area of the site frequently to keep yourself abreast of the following:
 
 
GFA Workshops
 
As a benefit of your GFA Membership, we offer a series of no-cost financial education workshops. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about managing your personal finances.
 
Protect yourself:
 
To protect your personal and banking information, GFA members are reminded to be highly cautious when receiving messages (telephone, email, text, or otherwise) directing them to call or respond to a link, and provide personal, confidential, and/or account related information.
 
Rather than provide any information, the members should contact GFA directly to verify the validity of the message, using contact information they already have in their possession (i.e. do not use contact information provided in the suspicious message).
 
 
Here is a security gift to you, our Members,
 
to help protect you from online crime.
 
There are numerous security solutions available to you, many of them free of charge, so here is a security shopping list for GFA Members:
 
Your Firewall
 
Many Internet users connect directly to through a cable modem or DSL. Even more believe their Internet Service Provider (ISP) protects them from criminal exploits.
 
Unfortunately, that’s only partially true. If you respond to a phishing link or get infected by malicious PDF/Flash file, program, or web site, all bets are off.
 
Fortunately, Comodo offers a free and very solid firewall for home use. For anyone who doubts whether they need a firewall, let us be quite clear – you do. The average time to compromise an unprotected, unpatched PC on the Internet is under five minutes. You don’t want to contribute to that statistic.
 
The Comodo firewall filters both inbound and outbound Internet traffic, which is critical for security. Obviously, you want to block any inbound criminal attacks. But if your computer does get infected, you definitely want to prevent the live virus from ‘phoning home’ (outbound) to its criminal masters.  Its interface is relatively simple for both power users and less tech-savvy individuals as well.
 
Your Antivirus/Anti-malware
 
Most PC vendors automatically install an antivirus application on new PCs with a one year license, but users may allow the AV package to expire without renewing the license.  Malware is constantly evolving, and thus the most recent malware signatures are essential for protection.  Rather than running on an unlicensed antivirus program with outdated signatures, you should consider a free alternative.  Microsoft Security Essentials provides decent anti-malware and anti-spyware functionality, and is free for home use.  Avast also provides a free version of their Antivirus solution which works quite well.
 
 
 
Your Passwords
 
Yes, we have too many user IDs and passwords, and yes, we have to change them too often for our time-starved minds to remember. But we understand that the inconvenience of strong ID and password security keeps our information safer.
 
Password Safe was invented to solve the problem of ID/password inflation. Password Safe acts as an encrypted ‘master vault’ for all your software keys, website logins, pin numbers, and email logins. Basically, you can condense them all into one ID/ password combination for the wonderful price of $0. One word of caution – make your ID/Password combination to Password Safe very strong!
 
Your Software
 
Just about all cyber criminal attacks exploit weaknesses in software already installed on the target computer. Windows and Internet Explorer have long been favorite targets of cyber crime, and Microsoft has stepped up with timely software updates, also known as ‘patches.’ Their newer software (Windows 7, IE8) has also been developed with better security, further protecting end users.
 
Unfortunately, the criminals have found software holes in other common applications to exploit, particularly in Adobe products, FireFox, Java, and Quicktime. Patch Management solutions such as Secunia PSI can help you detect vulnerable and out-dated programs and plug-ins which expose your PC to attacks.
 
More importantly, Secunia PSI finds the patches available from the software vendors – a tedious and time consuming task if you were doing it yourself. Secunia PSI automates this process and alerts you when your programs and plug-ins need to be patched. Best of all, the Secunia solution and the patches are offered free-of-charge.
 
Your Data
 
Do you keep sensitive data on your home computer or laptop? Of course you do. Electronic bank statements, 401k statements, tax returns – they’re all stored there. If a criminal were to gain access to your computer, chances are high that he would find these files pretty quickly.
One solution to the sensitive data problem is to create an encrypted drive in Windows for all these documents. TrueCrypt, an open-source encryption tool, enables you to do just that, keeping the documents in incomprehensible form until you access them with the appropriate encryption key.
One word of advice – don’t write the key down on a yellow sticky and put it inside your laptop!
 
*While we are pleased to be able to offer this security gift to you, our team is unable to assist in utilizing any of the tools included here. If you need additional information or support for any of these tools, please contact the provider directly at the links listed above.
 
Thank you for being a GFA Member. 

 

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