MutualOne grants $5K to teen mentoring program

site_logo_w_taglineThe MutualOne Charitable Foundation has awarded $5,000 to support the Mazie Mentoring Program at Framingham High School. Announcement of the award was made today by Mark R. Haranas, president and CEO of MutualOne Bank and a Foundation trustee.

The Mazie Mentoring Program, run by the John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation, works with youth who face steep odds against realizing their potential. It provides the support and motivation they need to succeed in school and beyond.

According to Haranas, the Foundation’s donation is earmarked for the purchase of laptop computers awarded to student mentees who reach the program’s college research milestone.

“The mentoring program has a history of success in helping youth at risk continue their education and set and achieve their personal goals,” Haranas stated. “The MutualOne Charitable Foundation is pleased to help offset the cost of the laptops and software students in the program receive as a reward for their determination to succeed.”

MutualOne $10K award sends youth Back to School, grants Holiday Wishes

ProjectJustBecause-logo3A recent $10,000 award from the MutualOne Charitable Foundation to Project Just Because will help provide local low-income families with school supplies and holiday items, according to Steven M. Sousa, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MutualOne Bank and a Foundation trustee.

The gift will support the Project Just Because Back to School initiative, which provides children with a backpack filled with school supplies, and its Holiday Wish List program, which distributes basic cold-weather necessities and small gift items to families in need. According to Cherylann Lambert Walsh, founder and president of Project Just Because, 2,000 students received backpacks last year and 15,000 Holiday Wish List packets were distributed.

“The need is far greater than most of us realize,” said Sousa. “MutualOne is pleased to help provide support for those in the communities we serve who are facing serious life challenges.”

 

$5K MutualOne grant will help elders remain in their homes

Homeowner Options For Massachusetts Elders - H.O.M.E.Mark R. Haranas, president and CEO of MutualOne Bank and a MutualOne Charitable Foundation trustee, has announced a $5,000 grant from the Foundation to Homeowner Options for Massachusetts Elders (H.O.M.E.) to help aging MetroWest residents remain in their homes.

H.O.M.E. assists those in the elder homeowner population who are experiencing difficulties and facing threats to their ability to age in place in their homes and communities. The problems addressed range from mortgage and property tax foreclosures, healthcare costs, and home adaptations and repairs to debt management and resource and income budgeting.

“The number of needy elders requesting H.O.M.E. services in increasing,” said Haranas. “We are proud to play a role in providing the counseling, economic literacy, and prevention initiatives they need to maintain their living arrangements.”

Keeping Children Safe Online

Reprinted from United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team Website

What uniUS-CERT-Intel-Microsoft-Red-Hat-Oracle-Affected-by-Privilege-Escalation-Flaw-2que risks are associated with children?

When a child is using your computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children present additional challenges because of their natural characteristics: innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment. You need to consider these characteristics when determining how to protect your data and the child.

You may think that because the child is only playing a game, or researching a term paper, or typing a homework assignment, he or she can’t cause any harm. But what if, when saving her paper, the child deletes a necessary program file? Or what if she unintentionally visits a malicious web page that infects your computer with a virus? These are just two possible scenarios. Mistakes happen, but the child may not realize what she’s done or may not tell you what happened because she’s afraid of getting punished.

Online predators present another significant threat, particularly to children. Because the nature of the Internet is so anonymous, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate or trick other users (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for some examples). Adults often fall victim to these ploys, and children, who are usually much more open and trusting, are even easier targets. Another growing problem is cyberbullying. These threats are even greater if a child has access to email or instant messaging programs, visits chat rooms, and/or uses social networking sites.

What can you do?

• Be involved – Consider activities you can work on together, whether it be playing a game, researching a topic you had been talking about (e.g., family vacation spots, a particular hobby, a historical figure), or putting together a family newsletter. This will allow you to supervise your child’s online activities while teaching her good computer habits.

• Keep your computer in an open area – If your computer is in a high-traffic area, you will be able to easily monitor the computer activity. Not only does this accessibility deter a child from doing something she knows she’s not allowed to do, it also gives you the opportunity to intervene if you notice a behavior that could have negative consequences.

• Set rules and warn about dangers – Make sure your child knows the boundaries of what she is allowed to do on the computer. These boundaries should be appropriate for the child’s age, knowledge, and maturity, but they may include rules about how long she is allowed to be on the computer, what sites she is allowed to visit, what software programs she can use, and what tasks or activities she is allowed to do. You should also talk to children about the dangers of the Internet so that they recognize suspicious behavior or activity. Discuss the risks of sharing certain types of information (e.g., that they’re home alone) and the benefits to only communicating and sharing information with people they know (see Using Instant Messaging and Chat Rooms Safely, Staying Safe on Social Network Sites, and the document Socializing Securely: Using Social Networking Services for more information). The goal isn’t to scare them, it’s to make them more aware. Make sure to include the topic of cyberbullying in these discussions (see Dealing with Cyberbullies for more information).

• Monitor computer activity – Be aware of what your child is doing on the computer, including which websites she is visiting. If she is using email, instant messaging, or chat rooms, try to get a sense of who she is corresponding with and whether she actually knows them.

• Keep lines of communication open – Let your child know that she can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems she may have encountered on the computer.

• Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts – Most operating systems give you the option of creating a different user account for each user. If you’re worried that your child may accidentally access, modify, and/or delete your files, you can give her a separate account and decrease the amount of access and number of privileges they have. If you don’t have separate accounts, you need to be especially careful about your security settings. In addition to limiting functionality within your browser (see Evaluating Your Web Browser’s Security Settings for more information), avoid letting your browser remember passwords and other personal information (see Browsing Safely: Understanding Active Content and Cookies). Also, it is always important to keep your virus definitions up to date (see Understanding Anti-Virus Software).

• Consider implementing parental controls – You may be able to set some parental controls within your browser. For example, Internet Explorer allows you to restrict or allow certain websites to be viewed on your computer, and you can protect these settings with a password. To find those options, click Tools on your menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Content tab, and click the Enable… button under Content Advisor.There are other resources you can use to control and/or monitor your child’s online activity. Some ISPs offer services designed to protect children online. Contact your ISP to see if any of these services are available. There are also special software programs you can install on your computer. Different programs offer different features and capabilities, so you can find one that best suits your needs.

For more information about how to keep your child safe online visit us-cert.gov.

Natick Days 2016

Our team had fun spending time with the community at Natick Days on Saturday September 10th. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth.

Employees of the Month

Congratulations to Donna Gogliormella, Personal Banker in our Concord Street office, and Wilhelmina “Mina” Murray, IT Specialist, on their selection as this month’s Employees of the Month.

Donna was selected for her role as a team player in helping new trainees, while delivering top notch customer service. Mina was recognized for her extensive contributions to the recent rewiring of the Bank’s Lincoln Street office.

EOM_Sept16

Donna Gogliormella (left) and Wilhelmina Murray (right)

Beware of Malware: Think Before You Click!

M1B_VirusReprinted from FDIC Consumer News – Winter 2016

Malicious software — or “malware” for short — is a broad class of software built with malicious intent.  “You may have heard of malware being referred to as a ‘computer bug’ or ‘virus’ because most malware is designed to spread like a contagious illness, infecting other computers it comes into contact with,” said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section.  “And if you don’t protect your computer, it could become infected by malware that steals your personal financial information, spies on you by capturing your keystrokes, or even destroys data.”

Law enforcement agencies and security experts have seen an increase in a certain kind of malware known as “ransomware,” which restricts someone’s access to a computer or a smartphone — literally holding the device hostage — until a ransom is paid.  While businesses have been targeted more than consumers to date, many home computer users have been victims of ransomware.  For more information, see an alert issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The most common way malware spreads is when someone clicks on an email attachment — anything from a document to a photo, video or audio file.  Criminals also might try to get you to download malware by including a link in the wording of an email or in a social media post that directs you somewhere else, often to an infected file or Web page on the Internet.  The link might be part of a story that sounds very provocative, such as one with a headline that says, “How to Get Rich” or “You Have to See This!”

Malware also can spread across a network of linked computers, be downloaded from an infected website, or be passed around on a contaminated portable storage device, such as a thumb drive or flash drive.

Here are reminders plus additional tips on how to generally keep malware off your computer.

Don’t immediately open email attachments or click on links in unsolicited or suspicious-looking emails.  Think before you click!  Cybercriminals are good at creating fake emails that look legitimate but can install malware. Either ignore unsolicited requests to open attachments or files or independently verify that the supposed source did send the email to you (by using a published email address or telephone number). “Even if the attachment is from someone you know, consider if you really need to open the attachment, especially if the email looks suspicious,” added Benardo.

Install good anti-virus software that periodically runs to search for and remove malware.  Make sure to set the software to update automatically and scan for the latest malware.

Be diligent about using spam (junk mail) filters provided by your email provider.  These services help block mass emails that might contain malware from reaching your email inbox.

Don’t visit untrusted websites and don’t believe everything you read.  Criminals might create fake websites and pop-ups with enticing messages intended to draw you in and download malware. “Anyone can publish information online, so before accepting a statement as fact or taking action, verify that the source is reliable,” warned Amber Holmes, a financial crimes information specialist with the FDIC. “And please, don’t click on a link to learn more.  If something sounds too good to be true, then most likely it’s fraudulent or harmful.”

Be careful if anyone — even a well-intentioned friend or family member — gives you a disk or thumb drive to insert in your computer.  It could have hidden malware on it.  “Don’t access a disk or thumb drive without first scanning it with your security software,” said Holmes.  “If you are still unsure, don’t take a chance.”

To learn more about how to protect against malware, visit OnGuardOnline.

 

 

MutualOne Foundation awards $10,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest

Robert P. Lamprey, chairman of the MutualOne Charitable Foundation, has announced a Foundation award of $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest as operating support for the Framingham Pearl Street Clubhouse. The Clubhouse has over 900 registered members and serves an average of 260 children each day, with emphasis on those from low- to medium-income circumstances.

The Foundation has consistently supported the Boys & Girls Clubs after-school and summer programs and services in Framingham over the past several years.

“We are proud to help provide a safe and supervised environment where the youth of our community can cultivate the skills, confidence, and competence to reach their full potential,” said Lamprey. “We believe it is money well spent.”

M1B B&G Club Grant

Celebrating the MutualOne Charitable Foundation’s recent grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest are (front left-right) Club members Savannah, Jackson, Jennifer and Aalani with (back left-right) Yasmine Ouweijan, manager of MutualOne Bank’s Concord Street, Framingham office and Yves Munyankindi of MutualOne Bank.

Going Mobile: How to be Safer When Using a Smartphone or Tablet

M1B_PhoneSecurityReprinted from FDIC Consumer News – Winter 2016

Everywhere you look, people are using smartphones and tablets as portable, hand-held computers. “Unfortunately, cybercriminals are also interested in using or accessing these devices to steal information or commit other crimes,” said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC’s Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. “That makes it essential for users of mobile devices to take measures to secure them, just as they would a desktop computer.”

Here are some basic steps you can take to secure your mobile devices.

Avoid apps that may contain malware. Buy or download from well-known app stores, such as those established by your phone manufacturer or cellular service provider. Consult your financial institution’s website to confirm where to download its official app for mobile banking.

Keep your device’s operating system and apps updated. Consider opting for automatic updates because doing so will ensure that you have the latest fixes for any security weaknesses the manufacturer discovers. “Cybercriminals try to take advantage of known flaws, so keeping your software up to date will help reduce your vulnerability to foul play,” said Robert Brown, a senior ombudsman specialist at the FDIC.

Consider using mobile security software and apps to protect your device. For example, anti-malware software for smartphones and tablets can be purchased from a reputable vendor.

Use a password or other security feature to restrict access in case your device is lost or stolen. Activate the “time out” or “auto lock” feature that secures your mobile device when it is left unused for a certain number of minutes. Set that security feature to start after a relatively brief period of inactivity. Doing so reduces the likelihood that a thief will be able to use your phone or tablet.

Back up data on your smartphone or tablet. This is good to do in case your device is lost, stolen or just stops working one day. Data can easily be backed up to a computer or to a back-up service, which may be offered by your mobile carrier.

Have the ability to remotely remove data from your device if it is lost or stolen. A “remote wipe” protects data from prying eyes. If the device has been backed up, the information can be restored on a replacement device or the original (if you get it back). A number of reputable apps can enable remote wiping.

To learn more about safely using smartphones and tablets, see the Federal Trade Commission’s Computer Security Web page.

 

$8,400 MutualOne Foundation grant for police ‘Safety Ambassadors’

frampoliceA recent $8,400 grant from the MutualOne Charitable Foundation is helping the Framingham Police Department put three “Safety Ambassador” interns to work in the community this summer. Announcement of the award was made today by Steven M. Sousa, MutualOne Bank executive vice president and chief operating officer and a MutualOne Charitable Foundation trustee.

According to Framingham Police Chief Kenneth Ferguson, the interns will provide the department with “insight and support to improve the efficiency of crime reporting” in the downtown area. They will also provide a variety of services to improve the downtown atmosphere, including reporting on problem areas, connecting with the homeless, and serving as an additional public safety resource at sponsored events. The program was designed with support from Framingham Downtown Renaissance, Ferguson said, with the focus on a safe and healthy downtown community.

“We are pleased to provide the Framingham Police Department with the financial support they need to put this intern program in place,” said Sousa. “It is another approach to community outreach and will help support the move toward downtown revitalization and development.”