Cybersecurity: Tips to Keep Your Information Safe

Are we in the midst of a data breach epidemic?

Cyberattacks continue to grow in damage and complexity. The latest annual study of the problem from Javelin Strategy & Research, a leading financial analytics research firm, says that 14.4 million people across the nation were impacted by I.D. theft in 2018 – a drop from an all-time high in 2017.  However, “those victims shouldered a much heavier burden than those in recent years: 3.3 million bore some of the liability for fraud, nearly three times as many as in 2016, and victims’ out-of-pocket fraud costs more than doubled in two years to $1.7 billion in 2018.” 1

The main topics discussed in financial planning sessions are investments, insurance and planning for retirement. I would suggest that a commonly overlooked topic is cybersecurity. This includes steps taken to protect those financial planning components, as well as making sure personal information and records are kept secure. Recognizing the need for strong personal cybersecurity could possibly be the most important aspect of keeping your information private in today’s environment.   

Cybersecurity Tips

It may seem overwhelming, but there are some basic steps you can take to keep your information safe. Below are a few tips to get you started along with a number of articles you can read to broaden your knowledge.

  1. Keep software, operating system and browser up to date – security updates are continually being added with upgrades, installing immediately can prevent viruses
  2. Install an ad-blocker onto your browser – reduces the chances of clicking on an advertisement or email attachment with malware
  3. Establish multi-factor authentication to login to any website or application you use for financial transactions that contain personal data
  4. Run a reputable anti-virus product on your PC or laptop
  5. Avoid using public WiFi hotspots
  6. Don’t use public charging cords or USB ports to charge your device – power outlets are okay
  7. Don’t click on links in emails or texts you don’t recognize
  8. Don’t use the same or similar usernames and passwords on multiple websites or applications
  9. Use a password manager application – https://www.cnet.com/news/the-best-password-managers-directory/
  10. Only download applications from Google Play or the Apple’s App Store
  11. Limit the permissions you grant applications to ensure they are needed
  12. Limit how much information is shared on social media
  13. Use a current and reliable email provider – more likely to have updated security features
  14. Shred financial documents
  15. Consider a credit freeze – https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/credit-freezes-will-soon-be-free-everyone-n883146

Resources

Addition articles for your reading pleasure:

This is such a complex topic. The tips discussed above are not an all-inclusive list of considerations in helping your online presence and personal information stay secure but, they are a good start to help avoid some of the most common cybersecurity threats. It is important to stay informed and remain engaged with your financial advisor to ensure your personal data is properly secured.

If you need a financial advisor or know someone who would benefit from one, please send them my contact information along with this blog or contact me directly.

1 Consumers Increasingly Shoulder Burden of Sophisticated Fraud Schemes, According to 2019 Javelin Strategy & Research Study, https://www.javelinstrategy.com/press-release/consumers-increasingly-shoulder-burden-sophisticated-fraud-schemes-according-2019