The Equifax breach affected almost 150 million people, many unprepared. After all, for many people, cybercrimes are something big companies worry about. The truth is hackers and cybercriminals are equal opportunity crooks. Big companies take digital threats very seriously. According to research by Markets and Markets in July 2017, global spending on cyber defense will reach over 170 billion by 2020. Most people have smaller budgets for cyber defense.
The chances you will deal with a cyber threat within the next few years grow each day. The Equifax breach affected half the nation, introducing many to digital threats for the first time. The silver lining is more people are interested in protecting data online than ever before. Criminals like easy targets; a few steps will add layers of protection to sensitive data and personal information. The perfect solution has yet to exist, but there are steps to protect personal and financial data in the digital space. Protect data and mitigate risk with this quick guide to managing cyber threats:
1: Keep Personal Information Personal
The simplest way to protect against digital crimes. Over-sharing of private information may give criminals access. This could be personal or about others. Many places exist to upload personal details or share with hackers. To help keep things private, limit the information shared:
Social Media: Social media can be a double-edged sword. An unprecedented communications tool, it can be just what criminals need for access to personal and financial details. A glance at a public social media profile can tell a criminal a lot: possessions, address, job, and much more. Enough personal details on a profile and hackers may begin piecing your passwords together. In many cases, answers to “secret security questions” (such as a hometown or other personal information) are standard personal details on social profiles.
Sharing Files: Many great tools exist for the instant sharing of files and photos. Friends and colleagues may trust each other, but an uninvited guest could crash the party. Uploading files to a cloud, file-sharing service (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive), or an email thread? Omit any personal information. Credit card details, addresses, and passwords are valuable morsels of information for cybercriminals.
Shopping Online: Companies attempt to save credit card info for faster checkout. This sounds great and saves time, but how secure are their servers? Major retailers with huge security budgets have security breaches, dumping credit card information onto the web. Small, home-based companies are vulnerable to cybercrime. Entering data during each visit without saving adds another layer of protection.
Each step limits opportunities for criminals to access data. Protect data: be vigilant about securing personal information.
2: Secure Electronic Devices
An electronic device (such as a phone or tablet) in the wrong hands could prove disastrous. Phones are pocket-computers loaded with personal details, financial data, access to accounts, photos, and so many details it would be impossible to list. As important as they are, phones and tablets are left behind every day at the checkout, coffee counter…anywhere people are. In a perfect world, no one would lose their device. In the real world, at least secure the details within using a passcode or password-protection. Phones and tablets locked with passcodes provide little benefit for those without access.
Internet security is equally important. Electronic devices connect to networks throughout the day. Many of these networks are unsecured. Hackers use unsecured networks to intercept data and to distribute it. Emails, files, and messages may all route through a hacker’s computer using an unsecured network. Hackers creating malicious programs tools distribute them through the computers of unwitting people logged onto the network.
Don’t panic! The coffee shop can still be a work venue. These few steps add armor to an internet connection:
Use a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Many options for VPNs exist. A VPN encrypts data making it difficult to intercept. Going through this data is a lot of work. Hackers want easy prey. A VPN creates virtual obstacles protecting sensitive data.
Stay Private. When logging onto a shared network for the first time, computers ask if the network is public or private. Selecting public tells the computer others may be using this network, limiting the data a computer makes accessible.
Change Passwords. Using different login credentials and passwords for sites creates added security. When hackers gain access to one account they try to access others using the same data. That’s a lot of passwords, but a password managing system like LastPass can catalog and save these for ease.
Log Off. Logging off from a network severs the connection between your device and others connected devices. Instead of setting a phone or table to connect automatically, manually connect to a network when needed.
Phones, tablets, and computers are digital doorways hackers use to enter private spaces. Keep the doorway locked.
3: Stay Informed
Simply monitor existing financial accounts. With up-to-date information, victims of cybercrimes can react quickly, in some cases avoiding damage before it occurs. Several tools exist for managing cyber threats from banks and credit agencies.
Subscribe to Fraud Alerts. In many cases, banks are proactive and call customers if suspicious activity is detected. Take a step further by subscribing to fraud alerts from the bank or a major credit reporting agency.
Know the Threats. The biggest cyber threats make the news. Know what to look for and how to avoid it.
Watch Bank and Credit Accounts. Banks help but the best set of eyes on an account is your own. If something looks strange contact the bank immediately. The same holds true for credit cards and other credit accounts. Many offer real-time alerts for purchases and credit inquiries.
Respond to threats quickly with real-time text alerts, emails, or phone calls.
Simple, proactive measures today can save headaches later. Defending personal and financial information is easier than repairing it. Look out for yourself, and your hard-earned money using these steps for personal security. For more information on these and other intelligent financial insights, contact ProsperiFi today.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.