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The Easiest Answer Isn’t Always the Best

Gary Devan, Chief Information OfficerMission Fed introduced internet banking, via MissionLink, to its members in 1997—14 years ago! Through the years, enhancements have been made to improve the functionality of MissionLink, providing added value, greater flexibility and ease of use.

Websites such as MissionLink that deliver or update confidential information require strong security to ensure that only those who are authorized to access the information can do so.

At times, the concept of building strong security and keeping a website user-friendly can appear to be at odds. The more steps necessary to secure access, the less friendly the navigation becomes. While Mission Fed strives to strike a balance between these two factors, it is also important that members strike a balance as well—by establishing strong passwords and choosing harder challenge questions. Because when it comes to online security, the easiest answer is not going to be the best for protecting your confidential information.

With the convenience of making purchases or accessing information online, MissionLink is probably just one of the numerous websites you use. Every holiday season, more consumers report that they are ordering gifts or paying for travel online. Here are some simple suggestions for protecting yourself and your information.

Access to a secure website usually requires a User ID and Password. Keep in mind that, while creating a simple, easy-to-remember password makes it easier for you to log on, it also makes it easier for unauthorized users to gain access. Passwords should be at least 8 characters long and have some complexity to them. Using a combination of lower case and upper case letters, as well as numbers and special characters if allowed by the website, is usually the best way to go. Try to create a string of these characters that will still be easy for you to remember, but not for someone else to guess.

Many secure websites require that you provide answers to challenge questions, which are used to email you a forgotten password, or for authentication if your signon session is different from your normal activity. While any answer can be entered, and on some sites the same answer can be used for all questions, doing so highly increases the risk of others getting into your account. Use longer answers (at least 6 characters) and create different answers for each question. Also, select questions where the answers cannot be guessed easily by those who know you (such as what city were you born in) or have a limited of potential answers (such as what month were you married).

These are just a few tips to consider. I highly recommend that you stay educated on internet security. A good site to review is www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/tech/privacy.shtm. Stay tuned to Mission Fed’s blog and quarterly newsletters, as I will periodically discuss security tips to help reduce your risk of a bad online experience.

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