Tuesday, September 14, 2010 Edition #576

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Today’s Highlights:
1st Flash: VISHING, SMISHING AND WORMS   Past issues of GCFlash:
September 7, 2010 Edition #575
August 31, 2010 Edition #574
August 24, 2010 Edition #573
August 17, 2010 Edition #572

Looking for articles from a past issue of GCFlash not listed above? Find them in our Knowledge Base!
2nd Flash:  GOOGLE THIS


Weekly Spotlight:

There's only 101 shopping days until Christmas! Give the gift that’s always the right style, the right color, the right choice. A GCF Visa Gift Card is always the perfect gift for any occasion. Stop into any GCF branch to purchase a GCF Visa Gift Card for someone special!

Our Current Rates:

For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, visit www.gcfbank.com/rates.aspx.

1st Flash
VISHING, SMISHING AND WORMS

Security experts are taking new threats detected last week pretty seriously. You should, too.

By now, we've begun to recognize unsolicited email as potential fraud. We don't click on every link, or picture, that appears to offer some tempting morsel. We set filters that block communication from unknown sources. Cyber criminals aren't reaping as large of a reward as they once were.

So one ploy by fraudsters is taking a step back to attacking by simpler technology. They're using the telephone to lure consumers in a threat dubbed "vishing."

Most recently, the scammers portrayed themselves as representatives of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), trying to collect on delinquent loans applied for over the Internet or made through a payday lender. The loans may not have even existed. But that merely offered the criminals a different ploy to trick consumers to providing personal information in order to clear their records. Either way, they had them hooked.

The calls were received on both landlines and mobile phones. Consumers are familiar with the FDIC logo and fell prey.

Earlier in the week, warnings were issued about telephone and text- messaging (smishing) scams targeting customers of community banks and credit unions in rural areas where the residents may not be as savvy.

Perpetrators of the hoax portrayed themselves as representatives of specific financial institutions in the calls and text messages, others as agents representing a group of local institutions. Other callers claimed to be travel agents giving away trips.

Yet the underlying message was the same. Victims were urged to provide personal information, their social security number and date of birth, to the caller for a fraudulent purpose.

This type of crime is called social engineering, as the attacks are conducted person-to-person. Expect to see this type of scam on the increase.

Consumers commonly use their mobile phone to access email or the web, and click on embedded links. These links can place hooks on your phone that send information back to the perpetrator.

The same advice offered to prevent email phishing attacks holds true with any other communication medium. The FDIC will NOT call consumers about any matter, and they most certainly don't need or require your personal information under any circumstance.

Your financial institution already has all the information they need to service your account. They will not request your account number, social security number, date of birth, or any other confidential information in the process of conducting business.

The same holds true no matter who the caller represents themselves to be. Caller IDs can be spoofed. Expect that anyone requesting personal information for any purpose you are not initiating on your own is out to steal your most precious commodity - your identity.

On another front, anti-virus providers warn consumers about a new worm being circulated the old-fashioned way: via email spam.

The email poses as a business message with the subject line of "Here you have," or "Just for you." The embedded link or attached document file contain a malicious program that can disable your security software and send itself to all the contacts in your address book.

The dangerous link has been taken down, but the worm is still spreading through remote machines.

Up-to-date and properly configured anti-virus software protects against this threat. Those who keep their operating system and anti- virus program set to automatically apply updates don't have to worry about falling victim.

2nd Flash
GOOGLE THIS

You can't rest on your laurels if you want to remain a player in the rapidly-changing technology field. You must keep moving at a frantic pace to stay one step ahead of your competition.

Google certainly hits that mark. The search giant wants to become your favorite news source, number one social site, trusted source in marketing and replace your telephone provider. Oh yeah, lest we overlook their core function, at the same time they're unveiling all these new bells and whistles they're revolutionizing the way search engines perform.

Google News got a makeover on June 30th that allows users to personalize the content they're delivered. The service already earned an "A" in my book with its signature no-frills approach to offering pertinent content sans the flashy ad promos that bog down other such sites.

Now you can select which topics of interest you would like to follow mixed right in with the day's most followed news stories. Headlines are gathered from news sites around the Internet with links back to the original source should you choose to read further.

Customize your experience by rating which news topics you read the most to find your favorites displayed at the top of the page. Add a topic that isn't on their list of offerings. Promote or demote a news source. If it's not a source you believe credible, demote them and you won't see them appear again.

Google quality shines through its Finance portal as well. Streamlined headlines make it easy to find the market news you're seeking. Enter your holdings into a portfolio and find news related to the companies you follow. Click on any company name or stock ticker to find a snapshot of recent activity, headline news, key stats and ratios, contact information and any other resource you need to make informed investing decisions.

Their famed Gmail just got even better with their new Priority Inbox. Gmail has always made it a snap to find any message or subject you may be searching for, no matter how many messages remain buried in your inbox. Now you don't even have to search.

Gmail will automatically determine which senders you respond to most often, along with whose messages you read right away. It will mark them important and sort them in a separate section at the top if they remain unread. You can mark or unmark any it didn't prioritize properly.

Add a star to those important messages, or those that require follow up, and find them in a group by themselves. No more risk of finding an important message buried beneath the stack!

Prefer to see your messages the old-fashioned way? Simply click the Inbox listing you're already familiar with. A click back to Priority Inbox gives you the sorted view.

Move over, Vonage. Google Voice has been rolled out to the masses. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, international calls pretty darn cheap. This service has been in beta for a while so the bugs are already tweaked out. Access the service through Gmail.

Regular readers will know why I think Chrome is the best web browser out there, so I won't go into detail again here. But if you missed my reviews, you can find them here and here.

And now we get back to Google's roots. Search technology at its swiftest. Or as Google hails it, "Faster than the speed of type." No more waiting .5 seconds for search results. As you start to enter a search term, results are dynamically displayed within the search box itself.

The system automatically scours your browsing history as you type, first suggesting frequently visited pages and topics that match the criteria while you are still entering it. If it didn't find a match within a millisecond, it will offer sites most popular in user rankings.

You may be content with the speed of the original Google we came to know and love. But the new mechanism not only delivers fast results, it delivers them more targeted. No longer do you have to scan entries to page four before finding the right match.

This feature has been available directly from the address bar in their Chrome browser for quite some time. And while it may not sound like a big thing, I sure miss it if I'm on a system using any other web browser. It's one of those things that you don't realize you need until you have to do without.

Stay tuned for other new products being developed in Google Labs.

Financial News

Always looking for the half-full end of the glass, U.S. retail sales increased for the month in August by .4 percent following a .3 percent gain in July. Sales excluding automobiles went up by .6 percent. The restoration of extended jobless benefits may have helped nudge purchasing along. Business inventories climbed 1 percent in July in anticipation of the August back to school purchases. Consumer confidence increased marginally, although still low historically. These positive signs point away from slipping back into a recession.

New unemployment claims dropped last week to 451,000 bringing the 4- week moving average down to 477,750. Continuing claims showed only a minor drop of 23,000 to 4.456 million for the week of August 21st. The unfortunate result of this slow recovery is a jobless rate, currently at 9.6 percent, that is predicted to continue above 9 percent into 2011 according to various economic predictions.

Today’s Market Rates
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Up 98.44 or 0.94% since 12/31/09)
10,526.49 (-0.17%)
S&P 500
(Up 6.00 or 0.54% since 12/31/09)
1,121.10 (-0.07%)
Nasdaq
(Up 20.62 or 0.91% since 12/31/09)
2,289.77 (+0.18%)
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 2.666%  
British Sterling 1.5546  
Euro 1.2996  
On The World Wide Web

The Internet is vast. How does a concerned parent keep their child safe online? Use the portal created for kids at kidskonnect.com.

The Bureau of the Public Debt has a new kid's web site to learn the connection between Treasury bonds and American debt. Find it here.

Planning a yard sale or want to sell a used item? Find out what it's really worth before tagging it. This site researches recent online market sales to provide the going price.

Tip of the Week

Have you had a strange security message pop up while you were online? Have you gotten an unexpected balloon message warning you're infected with a new threat? These are common tactics designed to trick you into installing malicious software on your computer. Learn more about misleading applications.

Quotable

"The Star Trek computer doesn't seem that interesting. They ask it random questions, it thinks for a while. I think we can do better than that." - Google Cofounder Larry Page

Today in History

1994 - Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced the cancellation of the remainder of the year's baseball season after a 34-day player strike.

Flash Fact

The original name of the Web search engine known today as Google was BackRub in 1996. The name was based on the search engine's unique ability to analyze the "back links" pointing to a given web site.

Have a comment about something you read in GCFlash? Suggestions for future articles? Drop us an email!
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