Are you worried about conducting business online? It’s a valid concern. Cyberattacks, hacks, and breaches fill the headlines.
Here are 10 quick tips you can use to keep your finances safe while online:
- Create yourself – As soon as you are done reading this, you should move away from paper statements and register to view your account online. Why? Cybercriminals have been known to create accounts, using your information, for various services like Social Security, retirement accounts, and online banking. If your online account already exists, they cannot create another account using your name or account number.Once they create the online account, they are you. The cybercriminal can do things such as redirect benefits, make withdrawals, etc. Imagine the difficulty trying to disprove that you did not use your information to register your online account. Plus, having your account online allows you immediate access to your information.
- Double up – Use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) wherever possible. What is 2FA? It’s a onetime code that only you have, entered when your username and password are required. The code is randomly generated and sent to you via an app, such as Google Authenticator, or a text message.Why do this? Even if the bad guy has your username and password, they cannot login to your account without this code. A good place to begin setting this up is on your email.
- In case of emergency – Remember those questions your online email provider often surprises you with like, “Confirm your backup account information?” You should enter this information in as soon as possible and actually update it when prompted. If a cybercriminal does gain access to your email account, and locks you out, you may be able to get back in with this backup email address.Think email is not important to protect? Where do you get your electronic tax returns sent? How about your most recent banking statement? Your email account is a treasure-trove of information to cybercriminals.
- Update, update, update – Update your devices as soon as possible when you learn that an update is available. Why? These updates contain critical security patches that will keep cybercriminals from getting access to your device. Update now, update often.
- Don’t click, delete – Did you receive a suspicious email enticing you to click the link or call a number? Phishing emails, as these are known, will contain language wanting you to click now to confirm and “secure” your information. The best thing to do? Simply delete the email. If you are curious about what the email says, contact the company in question, at a number or email other than the one listed in the email.
- If it’s too good to be true it probably is – Looking at an item to buy but found the exact same one, online, new in box, through a popular online forum? Sometimes these “better deals” come with a steep price. Cybercriminals often troll these with fake posts luring potential buyers into a scam. Before you know it, you are sending money to someone who never intends to send you the item (they never had in the first place). It was all a scam to get your money.
- Back it up – Invest in a good online backup solution. If you get a malware, this backup may save you and will be your only lifeline. Also, consider making USB copies periodically and keeping them in a safe place. If your cloud backup gets compromised, you will have an alternate plan.
- Corral your social – How much personal information do you have displayed on your social platforms? While it is good to give a general idea what you do and who you are, avoid crucial details that only you would know. Also, you should not have your date of birth publicly visible on any platform.
- Home Wi-Fi password – How strong is your home Wi-Fi password? Consider making it something like a passphrase, which is a sentence with special characters. Do you have guests over that need access? Turn on guest access and put a passphrase on it. This guest access passphrase does not have to be robust, just make sure you turn guest access off when the guests leave. The less hooks you have out for someone to connect to your network, the more secure you are.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi – This one may sound dated, but it still has merit. Do not use public Wi-Fi. Consider using the hotspot feature from your phone or a VPN connection. If you must use public Wi-Fi, do so only to get what you need and get off the guest network. While on public Wi-FI, avoid logging into bank accounts and other critical services.
Have another thought, tip or suggestion? Leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!