Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

My first car, a Chevy Cavalier Z24.  It was a manual and it was so much fun shifting through the gears at a rapid pace.  Today I enjoy driving my sons 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger.  Yes it is a manual transmission too and I have just as much fun racing through its gears like I did my old Z24.  Being an old car, it burns a little oil.  We check the oil regularly to avoid the risk of blowing up an engine.  Computers are like my son’s old car.  Preventative maintenance is also required.  While your computer may not blow up like an engine, it is at risk of failure if you don’t keep its operating system up to date. 

Vendors that manufacture the software for computers regularly release security updates.  These updates if not applied frequently will cause your system to be more susceptible to malware.  If your system is compromised, it can cause your system to behave erratically, become extremely slow, and even become inoperable. As a best practice, set your computer to auto update when a critical security patch is made available by the vendor.

The other software on your computer works the same way.  Vendors frequently produce releases to fix known security flaws.  Take a minute to review the settings within those applications.  You will likely find you can set them to auto update as well.


Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

Mobile devices afford us the convenience of being connected anywhere, anytime.  Couple that with all the different forms of social media available today and you could be putting yourself at risk.  One way to limit your risk is to limit how much you share.  Most people would not share their tooth brush but are very comfortable announcing their next activity like “TGIF, heading north for a long weekend”. Think of your tooth brush before you make your next post and limit what and when you share.  Sharing how great your up north weekend escape was after it happened is much more appropriate then before you go.

Social media, like many applications is inherently good, but it can also be utilized by those with less than good intentions.  Below are some additional items to consider as you use social media:

  • Thoroughly review the security and privacy settings – Most applications like, Facebook for example, give you a lot of control over security and privacy.  Make sure you take the time to set them appropriately and check back periodically as vendors add security features which by default are not automatically enabled.
  • Don’t be a friend or connect to everyone – Do you know everyone you are connected with via social media?  If not, a perfect stranger could be watching everything you post.  Consider setting up special groups like Family, Friends or a Special Interest so you can share what is appropriate within those groups and membership is controlled.
  • Posting Pictures Online – If you are taking pictures with your mobile device, make sure you have disabled your phones ability to tag the photo with the GPS location of where it is tagged.  If you don’t and it gets into the wrong hands, the GPS coordinates could lead someone right to your front door.
  • Review the privacy settings on your mobile device – There are many configurable security and privacy settings within your mobile device.  Typically you can find them under the settings icon.  You may be shocked to know what your device is doing to track you and your activities.