Financial Planning, Cyber Security

Tips for Staying Cyber Safe

September 27, 2022

Our lives are increasingly digital. Whether you need a ride to the airport, want to watch a movie, read the news, or measure your steps, there’s an app for that. You can search for a job, shop, pay bills, share recipes, and ‘follow’ friends.

The risks you may face

Unfortunately, our extensive networks include a potential risk from hackers. What can you do to stay safe?

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month[i], a campaign to share preventative measures to protect your devices and data from the most common threats, which include:

  • Phishing – phony emails that seem to be from a legitimate source, with the goal of stealing your credit card or other personal or financial information.
  • Malware/Ransomware – software designed to damage files, block access, or steal information, and potentially extort money from you to regain what you lost.
  • Password Theft – when hackers try to guess your password to gain access to your personal information and/or financial accounts.

How to protect yourself

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)[ii], steps to take include:

  • Enable multi-factor authentication – requires an extra level of verification, such as a PIN sent to your mobile device or the answer to a security question only you would know before providing access.
  • Update your software – install an update for your computer or mobile device as soon as you receive the alert, as it may be fixing a security flaw.
  • Use strong passwords and a password manager – set long passwords with upper case and lower-case characters, symbols, and numbers that do not represent information (such as your birthday, address, or phone number) that a hacker could guess. Using a password manager can help you keep track.
  • Recognize and report phishing – If you believe someone may have sent you a phishing email, you can report it to the Anti Phishing Working Group (APWG)[iii].

In addition, it’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi to conduct financial transactions because the network may not be secure. If you have to make a transaction in a public place, the encryption offered through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app may provide protection. Or you can switch off your Wi-Fi in your “settings” and use your mobile data, which is generally encrypted.

If you believe your data may have been compromised

Immediately change your passwords if you accidentally click a link that may not have been secure or find yourself in another situation that may be a risk to your data. Each year, you can also get a free credit report from the major credit reporting agencies, Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion®,to check for and report any errors or suspicious activity.

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