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
- 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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Any views or opinions expressed are those of Washington Trust Wealth Management. The information provided does not constitute legal, tax, or investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It does not take into account any investor's particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status, or investment horizon. Please consult with a financial counselor, attorney, or tax professional regarding your specific investment, legal, or tax situation. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to provide investment advisory or other services. All information is current as of the date of this material and may change at any time without prior notice. The information provided is solely for informational purposes and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but its accuracy is not guaranteed.