Tuesday, April 12, 2011
With Debit Card fraud on the rise, GCF is always looking for better ways to increase our customer's security. With Verified by VISA, we are able to provide another layer of security for on-line purchases made with a GCF VISA Debit Card. Click here for details!
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For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.
Be Smart About Your Phone
We love our phones. In fact, we've become so attached to them that they're like having another appendage. At least they appear that way when you're navigating a shopping cart through a crowded grocery store. How often have you gotten stuck behind a customer with elbow out and phone to ear - oblivious to the products on the shelf much less other shoppers?
Phones reach far beyond merely placing traditional calls. They serve as a total communications center. Your kid does something cute, you snap a picture and upload to Facebook so relatives near and far can share the experience.
Your favorite team scores big in an important game and you no longer have to wait for the morning paper's box scores to know the results or which star rose to the occasion. Or maybe offer an instant prayer for the people of Japan as news of the latest aftershock displays in real-time right in the palm of your hand.
It's no wonder competition in the marketplace is so fierce.
I'm talking about the criminal marketplace here. That little device you carry around contains more personal information than you might imagine. Computer threats have become so passé. The real booty is in your smartphone.
Your phone knows where you are. It knows who you communicate with and what you're doing.
Privacy advocates are concerned. So is the U.S. government.
Internet music provider Pandora was one of several companies subpoenaed by a federal grand jury last week, but they're not a specific target of the investigation. It's believed by many that some apps running on Android and iPhones collect more information about users than they claim. And our government wants to know the whole story.
A recent report revealed that 4.5 million phones are lost or damaged in the United Kingdom alone. No figures were offered for the U.S. but we can surmise the number is great.
Who finds those phones? And what do they do with the personal information they find along with it?
Mobile banking, shopping or investing carry the same risks as their online counterparts. Computer users have become savvy to the threats and keep anti-virus products updated to stop malware in its tracks. How many of you do the same with your phone?
Scammers hide Trojans inside reputable apps. Without protection, you could be downloading more than you expect.
Android recently announced finding about two dozen malicious applications that were put in their store, downloaded by over 100,000 users. These apps were capable of not only transmitting your personal information to a remote server but could turn your phone into a bot controlled by hackers.
Blackberry and Windows Mobile 6 users are safe from this type of threat. Both have developed a central white list that IT staff can design which applications are allowed to be installed on the phone. It's controlled from a central location. They're geared towards business function and designed as such.
But a large part of the Apple iPhone and Google Android attraction is allowing consumer access to hundreds of thousands of must-have apps along with Facebook and its plethora of the same. Security takes a back seat.
So here we have a computer we carry with us everywhere we travel. One that carries all the risk of your laptop or desktop PC. Plus it's mobile, increasing the probability of loss. And it's advertised as a consumer electronic gadget, reducing your awareness of possible danger.
Cyber criminals have found the goose that lays a golden egg.
Here's what you need to do.
Have you assigned a PIN or password to your phone? Doing so will prevent someone unauthorized from finding more than your phone should you become separated from it.
Norton, AVG and Trend Micro offer anti-virus apps for smartphones. Many are free. They're available for Android platforms. Blackberry, iPhone or Symbian OS users can find McAfee and Kapersky products designed for those platforms.
These apps will scan downloads and catch malicious files before they catch you.
There are apps available to protect your data. They'll perform automatic backups where you can access your data if you lose your phone. You can even control your phone remotely from their web site; erasing data, securing files, even locating your phone via GPS.
This new technology presents new risks. But with it you'll find stronger means to combat them.
Browser Wars Version 4, 9 and 10
It's said that there's no rest for the weary. As well, there's no rest for those in the IT field. By the time one version of any new offering is announced, an upgrade is already in the works.
Likewise, the competition is quick to announce their latest and greatest product. Is it coincidence that we find they contain similar features?
Both the Mozilla and Microsoft folks were so enamored by Chrome's sleek look and functionality that they incorporated much of it in their latest versions of Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9.
Gone are the clunky menus that cluttered the Firefox window. The tabs are above the URL bar, giving the product a clean look. Use Firefox in Android? You can now sync your passwords, bookmarks and even open tabs for access wherever you happen to be browsing.
A redesigned add-on library makes it easier to find new ones as well as manage those currently installed. If a plug-in crashes, it won't take the browser down with it. Simply reload the page and you're back up and running.
Create App Tabs for frequently visited sites. By right-clicking an open tab and selecting "Pin as App Tab," you'll create a tiny tab window that takes up less space while keeping the page open. Organize tabs in groups with Panorama. Switch between tabs from the URL bar. Start typing the page title and you'll see an option to switch to that tab. No more searching!
Microsoft unveiled Internet Explorer 9. It's loaded with features new to the product. But if you're a Firefox, Chrome or Safari user you won't find much new.
This version only works with Windows 7. Those of you running XP or Vista are stuck with IE8.
Internet Explorer 9 features a tabs page with tiles of your favorite sites, similar to Chrome. Notifications appear at the bottom of your screen, making them less intrusive while you're browsing.
The "One Box" turns your URL bar into a Bing search tool. Type either a web address or search term into the same box. Again, very similar to Chrome.
Drag the tab of your favorite sites to the taskbar to "pin" it. Color code and rearrange tabs for easier retrieval.
Crash management is improved similar to Firefox and Chrome. One bad page doesn't spoil the mix.
Perhaps the best feature of IE9 is the way it integrates with Windows 7. Bookmarks pinned to the taskbar update in the background, providing real-time information like unread emails or thumbnail previews of new site content. Use the "Snap" feature to view two web pages side-by-side.
With competitors quick to embrace Chrome's innovations, there's only one way its Google creators could respond.
Chrome 10 not only targeted the user experience, they took a swing at security as well.
Their new preference page makes it easy to sync bookmarks, passwords and other settings between computers you run Chrome on similar to Firefox. Sync data encryption too. But here you can also import data from other browsers with just one click as well.
Manage settings in a separate tab rather than a floating window that can get lost. Search for specific settings based on keywords. Type "cookies" and search results will display all setting options available.
Google introduced a system they call "sandboxing," improved in Google 10. It keeps each web page open in a separate sandbox. This keeps the browser running when one page crashes. Heard this before? Not quite. Sandboxing also keeps a virus contained on the page that attempted delivery rather than infecting your entire computer.
Creators claim version 10 is 66 percent faster than its predecessor.
Not yet impressed? Stay tuned. Beta versions of the next versions will be available soon!
In this global economy that we are in, imports and exports have a huge impact on our economy and indeed on inflation. Export prices rose 1.5 percent for the month of March. The increase for the last twelve months was 9.5 percent. Food inflation is the big mover with agricultural prices up 2.3 percent in the month.
Import prices also went up 2.7 percent in March. However, this increase was greatly impacted by a 10.5 percent bump in the prices of petroleum imports. Excluding petroleum, import prices only went up 0.3 percent, a drop from the prior month of 1.2percent. Over the last year, total import prices also increased to 9.7 percent in March. Inflation is a key component these price changes, moving beyond energy and food.
Analysts will look to other benchmarks that will be reported later this week like the Consumer Price and Producer Price Indexes to continue to point the direction and speed of moves in inflation and the overall economy.
GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.
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