As we discussed in our post Cyber Fraud and Kids, cyber security and the threat of fraud is increasing in our modern world. When even our children are being targeted, no one is safe. Unfortunately, cyber fraud is something we all have to protect against on an ongoing basis. Below are six easy steps you can take to bolster your online security and help protect your identity.
1. Update Your Software
Software updates are created to fix security problems and improve existing software. If you do not update your software, you leave it exposed and vulnerable to the problems that the updates were designed to fix. First you should update your operating system on each of your electronic devices, then move on to updating apps and setting up automatic updates for your Web browsers. Smart home cameras, locks, or thermostats, while very convenient, also open you up to more risk, so you should make sure that they have the latest software as well.
2. Strengthen Your Passwords
A good password should be a long string of random letters and numbers with capitalization and punctuation if permitted. Every account password should be different, which makes it nearly impossible to remember so many passwords and which accounts they go with. To solve this problem there are now password managers which store all of your password information so you don’t have to remember it. Try Lastpass.com on your computer, which will generate and store secure passwords.
Another useful tool is two-factor authentication, which requires additional identification like security questions. Most devices including Apple ID, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and many banks offer two-factor authentication.
3. Encrypt Your Devices
If you lose your phone or laptop, often the first person to pick it up has access to all of your contacts, personal information, online banking, etc. Encrypting your drives protects you from making your information available to others if they gain access to your device without your permission. You should also add a password or fingerprint lock to your device to ensure encryption.
4. Enhance Your Browser Privacy
You should clear your browser data on a regular basis to protect against hackers and aggressive marketers. This may cause a bit of an inconvenience in that it will delete any passwords you have saved in your browser and you will have to login again on sites that previously remembered you, but the added privacy is worth it. You can also avoid marketers by activating Do Not Track in your browser settings or by installing a browser extension to block spying ads and trackers.
5. Conduct an App Census
Through apps that access GPS locating, businesses can literally watch what we are doing and where we are going every day. To protect against this invasion of privacy, you should check which apps access your location and turn that feature off, or completely delete apps that you don’t use. In addition to your smartphone apps, you should double check your Facebook apps, which often contain personal information.
6. Develop Healthy Online Habits
Sometimes our biggest risk factor isn’t the technology, it’s us. Always think before you click. Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails you weren’t expecting. Use secure websites, beginning with “https,” especially when entering payment information. If you’re not sure as to the security of a site, use PayPal instead of your credit card. Finally, you should never write your account information in emails. A good old-fashioned phone call is a much safer way to give someone your information.
In our modern world where technology advances at a whirlwind pace, it can sometimes feel overwhelming and unnerving to think about protecting ourselves against cyber fraud. Implementing these six steps will give you great peace of mind, but even following just a few will reduce your risk considerably. Do you have questions about your online information? Wealth & Pension Services Group is here to help. Call our office anytime at 770.333.0113 x 106 or email [email protected]
William "Bill" Kring is the founder of Wealth & Pension Services Group, Inc, an independent wealth management firm serving individuals and businesses near Atlanta, Georgia. As a twenty year financial veteran, Bill offers broad expertise in wealth management services including asset management, fiduciary consulting, retirement, trust and estate planning, as well as insurance and 401(k) plan services. In his past, he competed as a U.S. Cycling Federation class III rider in both road and track. To learn more about how Bill may be able to help, visit the Wealth & Pension website, connect with him on LinkedIn, call his office at 770.333.0113 x 106 or email him anytime at [email protected]