October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

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Six Tips to Help Safeguard Consumer Data

sandyusebBy Sandra Thornton, Vice President/Information Technology, Bank of Zachary
    Americans rely more than ever on their smart devices for banking, shopping or social networking, making the need to safeguard sensitive information and prevent unauthorized use by cybercriminals paramount. As of Sept. 20, there were a reported 687 data breaches affecting nearly 29 million records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. In recognition of Cyber Security Month, we are reminding consumers to remain vigilant and protect themselves from potential credit card and bank fraud.
    The Internet is a shared resource and our shared responsibility.  By working together and taking preventive measures to protect our sensitive data, we can ensure a safer, more resilient Internet for everyone, while fighting against the rising tide of data breaches.
    The following tips will help consumers safeguard their online accounts: 
• Know before you disclose—Never respond to text messages, emails or phone calls from companies alleging to be your bank, government officials or business representatives that request your banking ID, account numbers, username or password.
• A good offense is the best defense—Make sure your system is running the latest security software, web browser and operating system to defend against viruses, malware and other online threats. 
• Connect with caution—Sensitive information should only be sent over websites with “https://” in the URL because these sites encrypt transmissions. 
• Lock it up tight—Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password, and update it periodically. 
• Own your online presence—Value and protect your personal information, particularly your date of birth and Social Security number. Share it thoughtfully and sparingly, and remember to take great care when posting about yourself and others online. 
• Help take a bite out of crime—Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center ( and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general.
     Community banks take great care with customer information and have established protocols to protect sensitive financial information from data breaches.  Practicing good online habits provides another barrier and contributes to our overall digital security.    Learn more about Cyber Security Awareness Month by visiting the Stay Safe Online website.