Malware and Spyware

Malware – short for "malicious software" – includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and other damaging and unwanted software. This kind of malicious software is designed to enter and damage a computer system, without the user's knowledge or informed consent, in order to steal personal information, such as account numbers, user names, passwords and credit card numbers for the purpose of fraud.

Spyware is a general term used for software that – as the name suggests – “spies” on computer users for a number of possible reasons: to display advertisements (also called “adware”), collect personal information or change the configuration of a user’s computer, generally without formally or adequately obtaining your consent.

Not all software that provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you may sign up for a free music service but "pay" for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, that may be a fair tradeoff. You might also agree to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.

However, other kinds of spyware make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer to slow down or stop working outright. These programs can change your web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser that you do not want or need. These programs can also make your original settings hard to restore. In some cases, spyware is also downloaded when people download – ironically – fake anti-virus software.

There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software can get on your system. A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file-sharing program.

What we’re doing to protect you

At Vancity, our priority is to ensure we provide you with a secure means of communicating and banking with us online – with features like encryption, online authentication and personal access features, and more. We also have a Security Guarantee that covers online and debit card transactions. If you incur losses due to unauthorized online banking or debit card transaction activity, you will be reimbursed under the terms of the Account and Services Guide, as long as you fulfill all of your responsibilities under that guide.

While we can’t prevent spyware on your computer, we are actively informing and educating members about how to protect yourselves – including the information in this Privacy & Security section of our website.

Top five steps you can take to protect yourself

  1. Use a firewall. While most spyware and other unwanted software come bundled with other programs, or originate from unscrupulous websites, a small amount of spyware may be placed on your computer remotely by hackers. Installing a firewall or using the firewall that's built into your operating system provides a helpful defence against these hackers.
  2. Update your software. One way to help prevent spyware and other unwanted software is to make sure all your software is up to date. The latest versions of Windows XP and Mac OS X both can be setup to receive updates automatically, ensuring you receive all important security updates.
  3. Download and install antivirus protection. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) now offer antivirus and antispyware software. In addition, Microsoft currently offers free antispyware.
  4. Adjust your web browser's security settings. You can adjust your web browser's security settings to determine how much – or how little – information you are willing to accept from a website.
  5. Surf and download more safely. The best defence against spyware and other unwanted software is to not download it in the first place. Our tips:
  • Only download programs from websites you trust.
  • Read all security warnings, license agreements and privacy statements associated with any software you download.
  • Never click "agree," "cancel" or "OK" to close a window. Instead, click the red "x" in the corner of the window, or press the Alt + F4 buttons on your keyboard to close a window.
  • Be wary of popular "free" music and movie file-sharing programs, and be sure you clearly understand all of the software packaged with those programs.

For added peace of mind, you should sign up for online banking alerts. Alerts are an online banking feature that automatically sends you an email and/or a text message to your mobile phone to alert you of certain changes to your account made through online banking. You can then let us know if we need to address it.

For more information malware and spyware and how to protect yourself, visit our section on Malware and spyware protection.

See how online banking alerts can help protect you
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