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August 2017 E-Newsletter

Business Corner: Top 4 Cybercrime Threats to Small Businesses

Small business owners: protecting your business against cybercrime is now more important than ever. 
In 2015, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranked cybercrime as the No. 1 security threat in the country. Despite popular belief, cybercriminals actually prefer small businesses simply because they are easier to infiltrate. 
 As technology advances, cybercrime tactics used to steal your business’ sensitive data will advance as well. Payroll outsourcing company Paychex cites that over 70 percent of cyberattacks specifically target SMBs.
Let’s take a look at four crucial cyber threats that could impact your business’ data security in 2017.
Data Breaches
Businesses feel the effects of data breaches through financial losses and loss of customer trust. The number of data breaches that have occurred in 2016 – 725 – is on track to surpass last year’s total count of 781. Recovery from a SMB data breach can cost between $36,000 and $50,000, which can be especially devastating to smaller companies.
Firewalls are put in place to block criminals attempting to hack into your business’ network. However, malicious software that is mistakenly downloaded by employees is often the culprit behind data breaches. Employee error and accidental email/Internet exposure caused nearly 30 percent of all data breaches in 2015.

Malware is most often introduced to a company’s secure network via phishing emails sent to employees. Symantec noted that the number of spear phishing attacks targeted at employees working for small businesses increased by 55 percent in 2015. Knowing that only 7.9 percent of a SMB’s budget on average goes toward the business’ security, hackers are much more likely to launch cyber attacks against small businesses that have weaker security systems.
Network Vulnerabilities
Unauthorized access to your business’ network via a security flaw can be damaging to your company. Hackers take advantage of security flaws within your business’ software because they act as back doors into your network. According to the Cloud Service Alliance, 75 percent of all cyberattacks target known vulnerabilities.
The Shellshock bug continues to pose a significant threat to a wide range of businesses, accounting for 13 percent of all retail cyberattacks in 2015. Shellshock is particularly threatening to businesses because it affects commonly used server operating systems such as Linux or Unix. In fact, over 80 percent of Internet hosts sites are affected by Shellshock. If exploited successfully, the vulnerability can allow criminals complete access and control of your business’ network.
Mobile Devices
While mobile devices are meant to improve efficiency, criminals can also exploit unsecured laptops and smartphones to gain entry into your business. Many businesses allow employees to connect their personal devices to the corporate network — so-called “bring your own devices” or BYOD. However, this can pose a threat to your company’s cybersecurity since over 75 percent of employees do not secure their computers.
Criminals also target corporate cloud services because of the large pools of data they can hold. Even though many of today’s cloud services offer sufficient security measures to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive business data, initial misconfiguration or misuse by the business user of these services can lead to vulnerabilities in the services’ defensive features.
Finally, any device that is connected to the Internet can be hacked. Devices such as DVRs, printers and Smart TVs (known as IoT devices) can help hackers gain access to your business’ network through unsecured Wi-Fi networks. If successfully hacked, criminals can compromise these devices and turn them into “bots” that can be used to unwittingly target other victims as part of future attacks.
What should you do?
Follow these tips to help safeguard your small business from this year’s biggest cyber threats:
  1. Implement the proper security measures. 
    Use and continuously update firewalls to keep hackers out of your network. Furthermore, make sure to regularly update company software to patch any security flaws and known vulnerabilities.
  2. Properly train your employees. 
    If your employees are educated about the common cyber threats specifically targeting them, they will be more likely to recognize a cyber threat and report it to you or your security team. Employees can help detect certain cyber threats earlier so that you address and manage them more efficiently.
  3. Secure your Wi-Fi network.
    Wi-Fi networks should be password-protected, encrypted and hidden from public view. Access to the secured network should be limited and monitored regularly.
  4. Adhere to strict regulations regarding the use of personal devices.
    Ideally, your employees should not use their personal devices on the business’ secure Wi-Fi network. If it is absolutely necessary, dedicate a separate Wi-Fi network for their personal devices to protect your business’ servers should the network be compromised.
  5. Consider allocating a separate network for your IoT devices.
    Similar to the personal devices, having a separate network for your IoT devices will decrease the chances of hackers gaining access to your business’ main network.
Cybercrime continues to target small businesses. Follow Fighting Identity Crimes to learn more about how you can combat the various cyber threats targeting your company.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.

Coulee Bank's Q-Tip: Phishing Moves to Smishing

Bad guys are increasingly targeting you through your smartphone. They send texts that trick you into doing something against your own best interest. At the moment, there is a mystery shopping scam going on, starting out with a text invitation, asking you to send an email for more info which then gets you roped into the scam. 

Always, when you get a text, remember to "Think Before You Tap", because more and more, texts are used for identity theft, bank account take-overs and to pressure you into giving out personal or company confidential information.  Here is a short video made by USA Today that shows how this works:

Q-Tips are provided by Coulee Bank's IT Network Risk Manager, Quentin Fisher. He is always on the lookout for ways to keep our customers' information safe, here at the bank, at work and home.


Guard Your Card on Summer Road Trips: 5 Tips to Evade Gas Pump Skimmers

Heading out on a vacation road trip? Watch out at the fuel pump for a threat to your debit or credit card: skimmers. Gas stations, among the last retailers to install fraud-reducing EMV-chip card readers, remain an attractive target this summer for card-skimming crews.
Skimmers can be hidden in and around gas pumps’ card readers, secretly recording the data stored in your credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe. Fraudsters use that data to make counterfeit cards, rack up pricey purchases at your expense, and potentially drain your bank account.
Tips for safer swiping
Here are five ways to feel more secure at the gas pump:
  1. Run your transaction (even with a debit card) as a credit card purchase. If thieves crack your debit card, they’ll be able to access your bank account. And although you can minimize your losses if you call your bank quickly, your liability for losses on credit card purchases is much more limited.
  2. Choose a fuel dispenser that’s close to the store — ideally, one with security cameras installed nearby. Criminals would be less likely to tamper with pumps that are visible to workers inside the store.
  3. Opt for well-maintained service stations. Proprietors who keep their premises shipshape are also more likely to be inspecting and taking care of their pumps, says Jeff Lenard, vice president for strategic industry initiatives at the National Association of Convenience Stores. These stores account for 80% of all U.S. gas sales. Some stations have adopted visible anti-tampering measures, such as placing tamper-resistant tape over the front panel edges. That’s a reassuring sign of vigilance.
  4. Take a minute or two to examine the dispenser before inserting your card. Does it look like the front panel has been pried apart? Is the keypad raised, rather than flush against the console? Do its buttons look different from the ones at neighboring pumps? Does the card reader look different? Is the reader loose in its socket? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the pump may have been tampered with; don’t use it.
  5. Pay with cash. No card use means no risk of skimming.
For that matter, take similar precautions at the ATM during your summer road trip; skimming crews still target cash machines too. And if you fear your debit card or credit card has been compromised, stolen or lost, contact your bank or credit card issuer right away. Get in touch within two business days of the event, if you can; that will limit your liability for any unauthorized charges to $50.
Why fraud lurks at the pump
Installing EMV-chip card readers is a costly and complex upgrade for gas stations, industry experts say: Replacement of the entire fuel dispenser is required. An October 2017 EMV compliance deadline imposed by Mastercard and Visa on gas stations has been extended to October 2020. But even EMV is no magic bullet.“Without PIN use, EMV is less successful in reducing fraud,” Lenard says. A PIN is an additional layer of security, and although your debit card requires it, you probably won’t punch in a PIN at the pump when using an EMV credit card.
Visa noted late last year that fraud at EMV-enabled merchants had been reduced by 43% — huge strides, but the crime is far from eradicated.
The article Guard Your Card: 5 Tips to Evade Gas Pump Skimmers originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Start a New Habit: Check Your Financial Health

You stop and take your pulse after a vigorous workout — but how often do you stop and take the pulse of your finances?
“It’s important for everyone to do, whether they’re just starting out or they’re nearing retirement,” says David Kring, a certified financial planner and owner of Conestoga Wealth Management in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Knowing where you stand is especially important before you set a new financial goal, make a plan to pay off debt or build a budget. It can help you decide what’s realistic and see whether you ought to prioritize other money goals instead.
How can you tell if you’re in good financial shape? Here are the areas to consider when assessing your finances — and what you should do once you know where you stand.
Your retirement savings
You won’t likely work forever, which means that one day, you’ll no longer have income the way you do now. That makes saving for retirement a top financial priority. The earlier you start setting aside money in a 401(k)IRA, or other retirement savings account, the better.
We recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement, with the aim of replacing about 70% of it when you stop working. At the very least, contribute enough to take full advantage of your company’s 401(k) match if it has one. Our retirement calculator can help you estimate the amount you should be saving and how close you are to your goal.
Your debt
Your debt load includes everything you owe, such as your student loan and mortgage balances. Not all debt is bad debt, but debt with high or variable interest rates can make you less secure. You’re doing well if you have no debt or debt that doesn’t disproportionately affect your daily decision making.
Once you quantify your debt load, make a plan to pay it off.
Your income
Your take-home pay, which is the amount you receive after taxes have been taken out, is the best measure of your income. The goal is to spend less than you earn.
“Spending more than you make is not sustainable,” says Patricia Seaman, a senior director at the National Endowment for Financial Education, a nonprofit organization specializing in personal finance education. If you’re running dry each month, consider how you can trim spending or make more money.
Your emergency fund
An emergency fund is a cash stash that you can draw on if you have an unexpected expense. Don’t have one? Start setting aside a little bit each month in a savings or money market account.
You should have at least three months of emergency savings in case of a financial hardship. If you prefer to start small, shoot for $500. Find extra money to pad your fund with our tips for how to save money on everyday expenses such as utilities and groceries.
Your credit score
Your credit score indicates to lenders how likely you are to pay back borrowed money. It’s based on factors such as your credit history and credit utilization, and it determines whether you’ll be approved for loans and other products, as well as the interest rate you’ll receive. You can get yours for free.
In general, lenders consider a score of 300-629 bad credit, a score of 630-689 fair or average credit, a score of 690-719 good credit and a score of 720 and up excellent credit. To build your credit score, pay all of your bills on time and aim to pay your credit card balance in full each month.
Your insurance
Depending on your assets and family situation, your insurance coverage might include car insurance, homeowners or renters insurance and life insurance. You might also want disability insurance considering that Kring says your greatest asset is “your ability to earn a paycheck.”
At the very least, you should have enough insurance coverage to protect against financial loss. That means your coverage amounts should be higher than the value of your major assets, such as your home, car and savings.
Starting line
Don’t be discouraged if you find you’re not as financially prepared as you thought you were. Now that you know where you’re starting, you know where to go next:
  • If your expenses currently exceed your income, create a balanced monthly budget.
  • If you have a high level of credit card debt, pay off small debts to gain momentum, then switch to knocking down the balances of high-interest cards.
  • If your savings are in good shape, think about investing.
And don’t forget to celebrate your little victories along the way. “Remember that it’s your journey and not anyone else’s,” says Seaman. “Try to keep focused on the progress that you’re making.”
The article Start a New Habit: Check Your Financial Health originally appeared on NerdWallet. 

Coulee Investment Corner: Estimating Your Social Security Benefits

With growing uncertainty about the future of Social Security funding, the Social Security Administration (SSA) suspended most mailings of its annual statements. Previously, the SSA had sent all working Americans an annual statement about three months before their birthday. The statement included one's lifetime earnings record, as well as estimates of retirement, disability, and family survivor benefits. It also reported earned credits, which indicated if one would qualify for Medicare at age 65.
The agency is working on an online download option. In the interim, you can access the same information online at, using one of the following methods:
  • The Retirement Estimator gives estimates of your retirement monthly benefit, based on your actual Social Security earnings record. The calculator shows early (age 62), full (ages 65-67 depending upon your year of birth), and delayed (age 70). The Retirement Estimator also lets you create additional "what if" retirement scenarios based on current law.
  • If you do not have an earnings record with Social Security or cannot access it, there are also other benefit calculators that do not tie into your earnings record. The calculators will show your retirement benefits as well as disability and survivor benefit amounts if you should become disabled or die.
Social Security should be a part of your retirement income planning. Make a point of checking out your estimated benefits at least annually so you know how much to expect -- and how much you'll need to provide from your own savings.
Also, remember that Social Security benefits don't automatically increase every year. They typically are raised to reflect an increase in inflation.
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