Tuesday, December 10, 2013
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 on your holiday shopping list!
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If you've visited GCFBank.com over the past week, you've already seen the news. Over 2 million passwords were stolen and posted online.
Here's the full scoop:
Security company Trustwave announced last week that its SpiderLabs research group gained access to a server which was part of a botnet called Pony. The botnet collected personal information from users in 102 countries.
Trustwave notified the larger of the affected organizations and learned some of the credentials were outdated. Victims were notified and compromised passwords were changed.
It's not known exactly which malware was used to infect the victims' computers and send the information to the bad guys. But it's believed to be distributed through a phishing attack.
Once your computer is compromised, passwords to every account or website you visit are their's for the taking.
Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and ADP payroll services were among the largest groups of more than 90,000 websites and ISPs whose passwords were found on the server. Frighteningly, the most common passwords discovered were ones the public has been warned not to use over and over again. The most common password found was "123456," used in nearly 16,000 accounts. It narrowly beat out "12345". Other frequent credentials included "password," "123" and "1".
The stolen credentials were posted online on an underground cybercrime website. They're shared on the black market with anybody willing to pay the price.
Think, for a minute, about all those mail order catalogs that fill your mailbox this time of year. They're the result of companies selling their mailing list to other vendors. Fortunately, the Direct Marketing Association has a method to remove your name from such lists similar to the FCC's Do Not Call list.
You can't ask to be removed from a stolen password list. Even if there were an advocacy group to petition. Criminals don't play by the rules, regardless of how many laws exist.
Far too many people choose a password, and then cling to it for life. Using it for multiple websites. They'll devise something simple that's easy to remember.
It's also easy for hackers to crack. And once they do, you may as well just grant them access to all of your accounts. They've probably already cleared everything out of them by the time you notice the breach.
Readers: Change Your Password!
Many accounts force a change every 90 days. That may not be necessary in all circumstances. But at the very least, change them every six months or whenever a specific threat emerges.
Make your password something hard to guess. We cover strong password tips fairly often in GCFlash. Today's web highlights offers past articles you can refer to.
If you're among those thinking this could never happen to me, visit our Security Center for resources on recovering from identity theft.
To Hash and How To Hash
Those #hashtags can look a bit annoying. But you'd better get used to seeing them embedded in ads, videos, social media, and anywhere else a statement is being made.
Remember how funny it looked when the Internet was young? TV and print ads would display the entire url "HTTP://www.GCFBank.com." They're so commonplace today you can eliminate everything except name.com and still get where you're going.
The same will be true of hashtags one day. They began as a social media tool, and quickly morphed into a marketing and advertising sensation.
Hashtags are an easy way to find related content online. They serve as a search tool on social platforms.
They're easy to spot in a tweet or post. A simple click on the hashtags compiles comments on your subject of interest in one handy screen, similar to Google or Bing search results. They can be leveraged across platforms by entering the hashtag into a traditional search engine, or confined to the social site you're visiting at the time.
Companies and individuals can register a hashtag. You can't prevent others from using it, but it could be important in implementing an advertising campaign or promoting an event.
If you do create a hashtag, you'll want others to use it as often as possible. It's the surest way to gain attention to your cause.
Learn what your customers think of your product, what your competitors are doing, or how the media is presenting a topic related to your item of interest. Know how often people are sharing your topic, and how they feel about it.
Hashtags get people talking. Post your comments on a topic and interact with others who share your interest. Expand your professional network.
Use hashtags to announce breaking news. In researching this article, I learned that the family missing in Nevada has been found alive and in pretty good condition just 10 minutes ago. Good news travels as quickly as bad news.
The little ones can follow Santa's journey this year using hashtags #Norad and #Santa.
Hashtags may one day revolutionize the way people shop. Celebrities and manufacturers are selling products or accepting donations to their charities by simply adding #buy to their tweets.
American Express offered money-back deals to customers who synced their credit card with their Twitter account. They could then purchase certain products from Amazon, Sony and other partners by tweeting a special hashtag. Spend $250 at Best Buy and get a $25 credit on their account. Simply tweet the appropriate code.
Companies like Chirpify ask consumers to sign up once on their website, provide their personal and credit card information, and buy items instantly using specified hashtags. They have deals in place with MasterCard, Adidas, Sprint and others, and they're already selling consumer goods by just using a hashtag.
Selling products over the TV just got easier. Simply add a hashtag to your advertising. A consumer tweets it out and product arrives at your door.
Convinced of how useful hashtags can be? Ready to try it yourself? Like everything else, you have to learn to use them wisely.
Don't just run a phrase together and preface it with a hashtag. Test out your options. Check to see what other content comes up. If the results aren't targeted to what you are offering, go back to the drawing board and try again.
Use them sparingly. It's hard to read a tweet with multiple hashtags strung together. Readers tend to overlook those they see repeatedly.
Be prepared for whatever you may learn. And use the results to improve where you may be lacking.
The folks from McDonalds urged customers to use #McDStories to share their love for the famed hamburger. Instead, it serves as a prime example of a hashtag gone wrong when customers used the opportunity to bash their quality and service.
And life is eternal on the Internet. Once posted, it spawns life of its own. Even if the author deletes it, it can continue to resurface.
Read your proposed hashtag over and over to make sure it can't be misinterpreted. Ask others to do the same. When former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, news sources used #NowThatchersDead to spread the word. Many saw #NowThatChersDead and mourned the singer's loss.
Tip of the Week
'Tis the season to be shipping. Domestic first-class mail must be sent by December 20 to reach your recipient by December 24th. Standard international mail should have been sent yesterday. Find a chart by country and military ship dates at USPS.com.
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