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Online security: what you need to know to shop and surf safely

Posted on February 19, 2013
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Online safety

Your best defense against online fraud and computer viruses is being informed and disciplined. Here are tips to help you.   

Protect your passwords.

Memorize your passwords.  Do not write them down or share them with anyone.  Change them regularly and use combinations of letters, numbers, and "special characters" such as @, %, &, and #.  Do not use your Social Security number as a username or password.

Keep your computer operating system up to date.

If your computer is more than five years old, its operating system (e.g. Windows 98, OS 7, etc.) may not offer the same level of protection as newer systems.  System manufacturers provide frequent updates to help make your system more secure.  For more information visit:

Use a current Web browser.

The latest Web browsers have the latest encryption technology and other security measures that help keep your data safe.  Some sites are implementing new security technologies that are not compatible with older Web browsers.

Install a personal firewall.

Though most office networks include firewall protection, your home computer may benefit from this added level of security.  Check to see if your operating system already includes a firewall prior to purchasing a separate one.

Install, run, and keep anti-virus software updated.

Commercially available virus protection software helps reduce the risk of contracting computer viruses that can compromise your security.  These programs offer continuous upgrades in response to the latest threats.

Avoid downloading programs from unknown sources.

Downloads from unfamiliar sources may contain hidden programs or viruses that can compromise your computer's security.

Disconnect from the Internet when not in use.

Dedicated services such as DSL or high-speed cable provide a constant connection between your computer and the Internet.  Even if you have a firewall installed, as an additional step to help protect yourself, disconnect from the Internet when not in use to avoid unwanted access to your computer data.

Protect yourself when making online purchases.

Credit cards are generally the best way to pay online because you have legal rights to dispute charges if the product or service is misrepresented or never delivered.  You also have limited liability if your card number is stolen or misused.  Did you know the Union Plus Credit Card includes 100% fraud liability protection? 

Learn more about online safety and security.

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