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PC-related threats:
  • Spyware is software installed on a computer without the user's knowledge, often through a virus or when a user downloads a free program. It is designed to let a hacker eavesdrop, collect personal or confidential information and perhaps track and record a user's activities. Some spyware can obtain such information as passwords or credit card numbers. It also often bombards computer users with unwanted ads.
  • Keystroke Logging is PC software that captures the user's keystrokes, usually unbeknownst to the user. These keystroke loggers wait patiently on the PC until you type in a password and ID that can be associated with a financial institution website at which time the information is sent from the PC to the criminal.
  • Malware is malicious software (Viruses and "Trojans") - latent malicious code or devices that secretly captures data on a consumer's personal computer which may intercept the user's request to visit a particular site and redirect the user to a site a pharmer has set up.
Ways to prevent infection:
  • Install current versions of virus detection software, firewalls and spyware scanning tools (more than one is recommended). PC Magazine ( and PC World are excellent resources that explain software jargon in layman's terms and provide objective product reviews.
  • Regularly update these tools by downloading updated virus definitions. This is extremely important as new viruses can appear daily.
  • Run system virus scans regularly, but especially after extensive Internet surfing or usage.
  • Make sure your browser is up to date and security patches are applied. Most browsers have automatic updates, but it's still a good idea to visit the actual website even if you're not alerted to do so.
  • Be aware of the risks in using public computers, such as those in hotels, libraries or Internet cafes, to connect to online banking because of the uncertainty of what spyware may have been installed on the public equipment.
Microsoft Update websites
Windows updates
MS Office updates

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