Protecting your devices and data: Computer Security Day

Tips By Alisa Cvilij Nov 30, 2021

Whether it’s your smartphone, tablet or personal computer, electronic devices have become integral parts of our lives. Every year on November 30th, the Computer Security Day is observed as a way to address the privacy and security issues that come with these new technological advances. This year, we’d like to share our tips on how to keep your online data safe as well as look at the steps Western Union takes in protecting the information of our consumers.


Refresh your passwords

The biggest way to celebrate Computer Security Day is to ensure (to the best of your ability) that your devices and data are all secure. The easiest way to do this is by making sure that all of your passwords are “strong” and that you update them regularly. A strong password contains upper and lowercase letters, symbols as well as numbers. The longer your password is, the stronger it will be, as longer passwords are harder for hackers to guess.

There are free services online that will generate random passwords for you, and you’ll probably get something like this G\`F}5$\Uyf%38$(. Maybe not the easiest thing to remember, but definitely going to be difficult for someone to guess. If you do choose to use one of these generators, don’t copy the suggested password directly, but rather change some of the characters just to be on the safe side (it is from a free website after all).

Another strategy for creating a strong password is to think of a phrase or sentence and use that. For example, I send money with Western Union! can become 1S3nDM0NeyWithw€sTerNUniOn! or IsEnDM0N3yWiThW€StErNUnIon!. Both of these examples are easier to remember.


Update your antivirus software

If you have spyware or malware protection software on your device, today is a great day to thoroughly scan your computer. Even if your scan doesn’t turn up infected files, you’ll still have peace of mind knowing that your devices are secure. Also, keep in mind to check your other devices like smartphones and tablets can be vulnerable as well and you’ll need to take extra steps to make sure they’re secure.

Another factor to check is that your operating system is up to date. Outdated systems are especially vulnerable to computer viruses. It only takes a minute to make sure you’ve got the latest security updates installed on your device, and this can save you hours of time later.


Protecting consumers data

Our consumers, agents, employees, and partners trust us to take care of their personal data. We are committed to maintaining this trust, and we provide annual training to our employees on cybersecurity and privacy issues to educate them and ensure their continued commitment. Our commitment to cybersecurity is based on a three-pillared strategy.

Anticipating and Responding

We aim to anticipate and respond to existing and emerging threats and new laws, regulations, and technological advances to protect our consumers’ personal data and comply with our legal and regulatory obligations. We mitigate potential cybersecurity risk through access control, training and awareness, policies and procedures, and protective technology.

Regular Reporting

Our Chief Information Security Officer oversees our Global Information Security program and provides quarterly updates to our Audit Committee. In the event that we experience a cyber incident, we are prepared with a formalized incident response program designed to quickly detect, respond to, and recover from the incident.

Annual Training

Our employees play an important role in identifying and raising cybersecurity issues. We provide them with mandatory annual cybersecurity training and conduct periodic attack simulations and other tests of our defenses. Our cybersecurity team continually assesses its program against the National Institute of Standards and Technology framework.


Combatting scammers and fraud

We are passionate about protecting our consumers against fraud. Our Global Consumer Anti-Fraud Program aims to protect consumers from becoming victims of fraud and to prevent criminals from using our services to further their fraudulent schemes.

Our fraud prevention program is designed to protect our consumers, agents, and partners through a number of sophisticated fraud controls. These include a courtesy callback program; consumer fraud hotlines; partnerships with law enforcement and consumer advocacy organizations; consumer awareness and education initiatives; and extensive agent training programs.

We work to educate the public about the various types of consumer fraud and how consumers can protect themselves. We warn consumers about modern fraud schemes through online, social media, and point-of-sale educational materials. In 2020, our anti-fraud messages reached more than 60 million consumers, and by 2025, we aim to reach 300 million consumers to promote fraud awareness and education.

To learn more about how you can protect your data online check out our article on creating a strong password. You can also find out more about Western Union’s commitment to consumer data privacy and security by reading our 2020 ESG report.