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Protect Yourself from Online Scams

Online scams are constantly evolving and they threaten the security of computers worldwide. The more you know about how to protect yourself from online scams, the less likely you are to be negatively impacted by one.

Malware, short for "malicious software," is a type of online scam. Malware refers to software programs (spyware, viruses, worms, et al ) designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. One specific type of malware to be aware of when accessing financial accounts online is a financial malware Trojan called Zeus (also known as Zbot, WSNPOEM, NTOS and PRG). Zeus infects PCs, then waits for users to log onto a list of targeted banks and financial institutions and then injects HTML into the pages rendered by the browser, so that its own content is displayed with (or instead of) the genuine pages from the financial institution's web server. Thus, it is able to present users with such things as pop ups or redirects with forms that ask the user to divulge personal financial information, such as credit/debit card numbers and PINs, one-time passwords, etc. Zeus is the #1 botnet, with 3.6 million PCs infected in the US alone according to a recent report.1

It's easy to protect your computer and your personal financial information online by following a few simple steps:

  1. Install and run a current anti-virus software program.
  2. Keep your anti-virus software definitions up-to-date to protect your computer as new malwares are discovered. Most anti-virus software has a feature to automatically update your definitions periodically and it's good practice to set this to update at least once a week.
  3. Be very careful in opening email. If you receive an email with an attachment from a sender you don't recognize, don't open the attachment. Even if the sender is someone you do recognize, if you aren't expecting an email with an attachment from them, if the wording of the subject or message seems strange for that person to send you, don't open it without first checking with them to verify it is legitimate.
  4. Use caution when downloading and installing software from the Internet. If you do, be sure you are always downloading it from a reputable site you can trust. Several sites offer reviews of the software you can download, read the reviews to see if other users have registered any complaints about Trojans or freeware in the software you are planning to install. Most major anti-virus software also now provides some protection against Trojan horses.

NASA Federal Credit Union takes the security of personal and account information very seriously. If you have been affected by financial malware or any other scam involving your personal financial information at NASA Federal Credit Union, please notify us immediately at support@nasafcu.com or by calling 301-249-1800, ext. 805 or toll-free, 1-888-NASA-FCU (627-2328), ext. 805.

1http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/072209-botnets.html.

NCUA Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000
and backed by the full faith & credit of the U.S. Government.