All You Need to Know About Cybersecurity

Cybercrimes are increasing massively each year. In fact, according to Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

The best way to protect yourself from falling prey to cybercrimes is by being aware of common tactics and keeping your systems and devices secure. In honor of Cybersecurity Month, let’s take a closer look at this essential toolset and how to best harness it for your protection. 

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the protection of online devices, networks, data and electronic systems from attacks by hackers, scammers and cybercriminals. 

There are several major categories of cybersecurity:

  • Network security is the securing of a computer network from intruders who commit crimes by targeted attack or malware. 
  • Application security focuses on protecting software and devices from threats. 
  • Information security protects the integrity and privacy of data.
  • Operational security includes handling and protecting data assets. 
  • Cloud security refers to creating secure cloud applications for companies that use cloud service providers, like Google, AWS, etc. 
  • Identity management and data security protects processes that enable authorization and authentication of legitimate individuals to an organization’s systems. 
  • Mobile security protects data stored on mobile devices from threats.

Methods of cybercrimes

All forms of cybercrimes threaten cybersecurity in some way. Here are some of the methods used to wage attacks: 

  • Malware-includes ransomware, spyware and viruses. These can install harmful software, block access to systems or provide scammers with access to data.
  • Trojans-trick users into thinking they’re opening a harmless file, but they’re really installing a backdoor that provides access to cybercriminals. 
  • Botnets-conducted via remotely controlled malware-infected devices and usually employed as a large-scale attack. 
  • Adware-involves a potentially unwanted program installed without the user’s permission, which automatically generates unwanted online advertisements.
  • Phishing-employed by email, text, or social media message, it tricks the target into sharing sensitive information. 

How can I protect myself against cyberattacks?

Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself from cyberattacks: 

  1. Use banking activity alerts.
  2. Update your software and operating systems often.
  3. Use anti-virus software. 
  4. Use strong, unique passwords across all your online accounts.
  5. Never open email attachments or click on links from unknown senders. 
  6. Avoid using unsecured public WiFi.

Through awareness and use of cybersecurity tools, you can keep your devices and personal information secure. 

Stay up to date on current scams and learn how to report fraud by visiting

Save Money When Shopping Online

It’s time to replace that rush you get from filling your virtual cart with the high that comes from saving a ton of money.

Get ready to transform the way you shop online.

Just. Wait.

Online retailers are experts at getting you to go from “I-gotta-have-it” to “It’s-on-the-way-to-my-house” quicker than you can say “buyer’s remorse.” Beat them at their own game by waiting a few days before completing a purchase. You may find you don’t really need that item after all. Also, retailers will often email a coupon for you to use for the “forgotten items” in your cart.

Outsmart dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing is that slightly freaky way retailers have of knowing just which products and in just which price range to show you. Outsmart dynamic pricing with these tips:

  • Clear your browsing history or shop incognito
  • Log out of your email and social media accounts
  • Choose localized websites of international brands

Time your purchases right

Sunday’s your day to score cheap airfare.

Bookworms, hit up Amazon and Barnes & Noble on Saturdays when they launch most of their book sales.

Shopping for a new computer? Wait for Tuesday. That’s when big retailers distribute coupons.

For most other purchases, it’s best to shop Wednesday-Friday for the best deals.

Layer coupons

Always use a promo code before a discount coupon. A promo code takes a specified percentage off your entire purchase, while a discount code takes off a dollar amount. If you do it the other way, you’ll save less money. Don’t believe us? Do the math. We’ll wait.

Ask for price-drop refunds

Don’t you hate it when you find out what you bought yesterday just price-dropped? The good news is that some companies offer a refund for newly discounted items if you notify them within a certain timeframe. That’s money back in your pocket. Sweet!

Use multiple emails for discounts

Many retailers offer one-time promo codes for new customers, but you can be a new customer more than once by using a different email address.

Don’t shop alone

We’re not talking human companionship here. It’s 2021. You should not be shopping online without the help of a money-saving app, like PriceGrabberRakuten, or RetailMeNot.

Online shopping just got cheap again!

Don’t Share Your Grad Photo Online

Congrats  — you did it! You’ve spent years studying for exams, keeping up with your coursework and writing papers. Finally, the finish line is within reach. You’re graduating!

It’s a super-exciting time, and all you want to talk about is your graduation. So when a bunch of your friends are sharing their senior photos and joining graduation contests on Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms, you think it’s harmless to do it, too. Unfortunately, though, posting a senior portrait with your graduation year and the name of your school on a public platform can mean playing right into a scam.

Here’s what you need to know about grad photo scams and how to play it safe.

How the scams play out

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning graduates not to post their senior pictures on any social media platforms. Scammers, they explain, are using these sites to gather new targets. When they see a grad photo with a graduation year and the name of a school, they can take this information. Since these items are commonly used for security questions, scammers can look up more details about the target or even hack into private accounts. Once they’ve completed this step, they can pull off identity theft and more.

Also, lots of trending post-your-list-of-favorites contests for graduates can be exploited by scammers. In these contests, graduates are asked to share their senior portrait along with a list of favorites, such as their favorite songs or cars they’ve owned. This information can also be unknowingly seen by scammers.

How to stay safe

The BBB shares the following tips to help graduates and others keep safe on social media:

  • Only share your graduate photos privately with friends.
  • Don’t join grad photo contests that compromise your privacy.
  • Review and adjust the security settings on your devices and social media accounts.
  • If you believe you’ve been targeted, consider changing your passwords and security questions.

If you find evidence of fraud, let your credit union know so it can place a fraud alert on your accounts. You’ll also want to report the fraud to the FTC at

Graduation is a super-exciting milestone and you don’t want scammers ruining this special time. Stay safe!

Technology a Necessity in Today’s World

Whether you’re trying to keep up with younger family members or you’re trying to make an appointment for a COVID vaccination, like it or not, you need to be up on the latest technology.

Some devices may still be somewhat intimidating, but digital devices have become more user-friendly over the years.

If you can yell, “Alexa!” you have the ability to get the news and weather, find out where your delivery is and, more importantly, call for help just by using your voice.

Older adults and technology usage

According to AARP , people over age 50 are using smartphones, tablets, smart speakers and wearable devices as much as adults ages 18-49. Many say they use their devices daily, mostly for social media.

Those who are not adopting technology say there is a lack of knowledge and a presence of health problems, such as hearing and vision issues. Cost is also sometimes noted as a reason for shying away from buying that smartphone or Apple watch.

Most devices that are specifically designed for older people, such as wearable fall-detection devices, are viewed as a negative stereotype for aging.

Useful products for older adults

Charlotte Yeh, the chief medical officer at AARP, says technological devices geared toward older adults should not only focus on protecting their safety, but also give them a feeling of purpose and connection, as well as a positive view on aging.

Some examples of these products include the Amazon Alexa Care Hub, created for independent living with the security of knowing you’re connected to loved ones; and the BUDDY app for Fitbit smart watches to monitor and manage fall prediction, prevention and detection, medication schedules and reminders, GPS locations and emergency notifications, all with modern style.

Some libraries and township recreation departments provide free instruction on how to use tablets and e-readers, like Amazon Kindle. Check their schedules or grab your teenage grandkids to hook you up. Technology is a necessary part of today’s world, and once you embrace it, you’ll feel less isolated and more in control of your daily life.

Financial technology

Having the ability to manage your financial accounts without going into a branch is especially important for older adults. If you haven’t already, enroll in High Point FCU’s digital banking service, and enjoy 24/7 online account access!  Learn about the benefits of digital banking here.

Don’t Fall Prey to a Holiday Toy Scam

Scammers famously exploit high-stress times, and the pre-holidays shopping frenzy is no exception. That’s why the BBB is warning of an uptick in holiday toy scams which can be difficult to spot.

Here’s what you need to know about these scams.

How the scam plays out

Every year, there are a few must-have toys on most kids’ wish lists. These choice picks become the hottest-selling items and are plucked off shelves in a wink. Unfortunately for anyone who didn’t shop early enough, these toys soon become impossible to find. The parents search desperately, but to no avail.

Here’s where the scammer steps in. Armed with a bogus website and some crafty online tracking, the scammer targets the vulnerable shopper with ads and online messages to draw the shopper to the scammer’s site. On the authentic-looking site, the shopper finally finds what they seek — the sought-after toy! Often, the toy is also deeply discounted. The purchase is completed within minutes.

Unfortunately, though, the scammer will send a cheap knockoff that doesn’t work or quickly breaks. When contacted for a refund, the scammer refuses to provide one or offers only to refund a small percentage of the purchase price. Sometimes, they’ll also charge an exorbitant amount of money for shipping it back to the company, almost making the small refund not worthwhile.

Red flags

Here’s how to spot these scams:

  • The seller has a large supply of toys that are in high demand.
  • The website is not secure.
  • The seller is offering a steep discount due to a “flash sale” or “last-minute” deal.
  • The seller’s website is full of spelling and/or grammatical errors.

Stay safe

Keep yourself safe when shopping online with these tips:

  • Research before you buy. Avoid purchasing an expensive item from a company you’ve never heard of before without doing some digging.
  • Look for the lock icon and the “s” after the “http” on the URL before buying anything.
  • Review item return policies before making a purchase.
  • Pay with credit for purchase protection power.
  • Keep your security software up to date.
  • Hang on to any purchase order confirmations.
  • Don’t trust links in unsolicited emails. Scammers will often impersonate reputable websites in order to gain access to your account information. Go to a company website directly when looking for an item.
  • If you believe you’ve been targeted by a holiday toy scam, end all contact with the seller immediately. Alert the BBB and let your friends know about the circulating scam as well.

Shop safely this holiday season!

Staying Safe Online

A compromised computer can put you at risk for money loss, phishing scams or even complete identity theft. Read on for some steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.

Avoid fake sites

If you’re browsing a site you don’t usually use, ask yourself these questions to make sure it’s safe:

  • Does your browser warn you against visiting the site? Your browser’s warnings are based on actual data and user reports.
  • Is the web text riddled with grammar mistakes and typos? If a site looks like it was written by a second-grader, leave.
  • Is the site secure? Only visit sites with an “https” and not just an “http” in the address bar.
  • Does the digital footprint check out? Google the company’s name to see what’s being said about them.
  • Is there a legitimate “Contact us” section? There should be an authentic physical address and phone number for the business.
  • Is there an excessive number of ads? If a website is practically covered in ads, it’s likely a fake.
  • Check the shipping and return policies. If you can’t find this information, the site is probably bogus.
  • Is the URL authentic? When redirected to another site, check the new URL to see if it matches the original company.
  • Does something seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is, and caution is warranted!
  • Is the site prompting you to download something? Make sure you verify the site before performing any download.
  • Is there an alternative site that you’ve used before and trust? If so, use that site instead.

Practice password safety

It’s the key to your online life — keep it safe! Here’s how:

  • Change your password every 30-40 days.
  • Never double passwords. Use a unique code for each site and service you use.
  • Use strong passwords. Choose passwords that include a mixture of capitalization use, numbers, letters and symbols.
  • Use a random passphrase instead of a password. Passphrases are longer and harder to guess. Switch out certain letters with symbols and numbers to make it even more secure. The longer the password the better.

Update your browser

Perhaps the most important step of internet safety is keeping your browser updated. With just one click, you’ll increase your browser’s security and improve your computer by making it faster and compatible with more websites.

Above all else, an updated browser will provide better security. Internet companies are constantly looking for ways to protect you and keep you safer; take full advantage of their efforts by always using the latest version.

An updated browser offers stronger protection against the most recent scams, phishing attacks, viruses, Trojans, and more. Newer browsers have also patched up security vulnerabilities that may be present in your older browser. Updating your browser is super-easy and super-quick. Late model computers will update automatically as soon as new iterations are released to the public. If your computer is a little older, you can choose the “auto-update” feature available on some browsers for the same results. Otherwise, you can update your browser manually by following the instructions on your browser. These are typically easy to follow and take just a few clicks.

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