By Marc Saltzman
IT SEEMS PROTECTING personal information is
on everybody’s minds these days. It’s definitely a critical topic. Here are answers to some security-related
questions sent to The Connection.
Can a virus be “pushed” to your PC if you
have not clicked on a link or opened any
While it’s not impossible, it is very difficult to get
a virus if you don’t click on anything.
In most cases, a virus gets on your computer if
you open an infected email attachment or click on a
deceptive banner advertisement or pop-up window.
Avoid clicking on anything you’re unsure of, and
download files and programs only from sites that scan
everything for viruses first (such as
While rare, there have been instances of “
drive-by downloads,” where a computer was infected after
a user visited a malicious website and didn’t click on
anything. But it’s not a common occurrence.
Still, to reduce the odds of your computer getting
infected, consider the following: Use an anti-malware
(malicious software) program, such as Symantec’s
Norton products, and set it to automatically update
itself; never click on suspicious-looking emails,
attachments or banners; watch out for “phishing”
emails that appear to be from a legitimate organization, though they’re not (and never give out personal
info when they ask for it); and make sure your Web
browser has security settings enabled to further protect you.
On a related note, it’s a good idea to back up
your important files often (once or twice a
month) onto an external hard drive, USB flash
drive or online cloud backup site, just in case a
virus causes havoc on your computer.
Is it safe to do Internet banking when
using a public hot spot? What if I use
Whether it’s at a local coffee shop, airport or
hotel lobby, millions of mobile computer users take
advantage of free public Wi-Fi networks—aka “hot
spots.” But don’t use them for financial transactions,
as cyber-crooks could be digitally eavesdropping on
your activities. Using a free hot spot is OK for things
like reading the news, but resist entering sensitive
data, such as your banking passwords.
Hotspot Shield is a virtual private network, or
VPN, which does provide a safer way to browse the
Web. It conceals your online identity so it’s private and
confidential. Without a VPN, your personal info and
passwords can be seen and stolen.
With this in mind, it should be OK to do Internet
banking if you use Hotspot Shield—which is available
as an ad-supported free VPN service or a paid premium service—but remember that nothing is 100 percent safe (just look at all the high-profile data breaches
over the past year!).
To err on the side of caution, do your Internet
banking at home or over a cellular connection (which
is safer than public Wi-Fi), and use Hotspot Shield if
you must bank while on the go. Also, be sure to monitor your online statements for anything suspicious.
Our bank’s website is asking us to consider
two-step authentication, but it doesn’t really
explain what it is and why we need it.
Many financial institutions and major tech companies (including Google, Facebook, Twitter and
Apple) now offer what’s called a “two-step authentication” option for signing into your account.
As the name suggests, in addition to a standard
username and password, you’ll need a code that’s sent
usually via text (SMS) message to your mobile phone,
or revealed in an app. Before you gain access to the site
or app, you’ll be prompted to enter that short, randomly generated verification code.
Your bank, for example, is suggesting you sign in
with not just your password, but also a one-time-use
code it will send to your smartphone, such as 24681.
You would then type that into your banking website to
gain access to your account.
This serves as an extra security measure to protect
your online accounts from being compromised. It
confirms that you—and only you—are granted access
to your account. C
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for better security Have questions about electronics or computers you purchased at Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to: 425-313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
browser has sec
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The Costco Connection
Costco features security software at your local
Costco and online at Costco.com. Also, identity
theft protection services are offered through
Identity Guard, with exclusive pricing for Costco
members. For information, go to Costco.com, click
on “Services” and on “Identity Protection.”