How to Keep Your Sensitive Information Safe from Cyber-Criminals
Do you manage some or all of your finances online? It’s a common – and convenient – practice today, but protecting your online financial information is of the utmost importance.
With the benefits of online banking and investing also comes the risk of cyber-attacks and identity theft. Hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods, and it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect your online financial information.
In this article, we’ll explore some common threats to your online financial security and provide practical tips to help keep your sensitive information safe.
Common Cyber Attacks and Identity Theft Strategies
Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting your online financial information. There are numerous types of cyber-attacks and identity theft strategies to be aware of, so let’s review some of the most common scams:
This is when cybercriminals use deceptive emails, phone calls, or text messages to trick people into providing their personal information or online financial information such as login credentials, Social Security numbers, or bank account details.
Malware refers to malicious software designed to damage or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. Cybercriminals use malware to steal personal information such as usernames and passwords, some of which may be used to access your bank accounts or other online financial information.
Ransomware is a specific type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. If the victim doesn’t pay, their files can be permanently lost or publicly released.
Social Engineering Attacks
This is when cybercriminals use human manipulation tactics to gain access to personal information. For example, they may impersonate a customer service representative and ask for login credentials.
This includes brute force attacks where cyber criminals try numerous password combinations to gain access to a user’s account. It also includes password “spraying” where they use a list of commonly used passwords to gain access.
Account Takeover Attacks
This is when cybercriminals gain access to a user’s account by stealing their login credentials or using phishing attacks to trick them into revealing their information. If you become a victim and your information is available, cybercriminals may use it to access your online financial information, steal your identity, or perpetrate other criminal acts.
This is when a cybercriminal convinces a phone carrier to transfer a victim’s phone number to a new SIM card in their possession. They can then use this to gain access to accounts that use two-factor authentication via text message.
What You Can Do to Better Protect Your Online Financial Information
Threats like those described above are concerning, but it’s important to be aware. Of course, having awareness about threats to your online financial information is only half the battle. The other half is taking steps to keep your information safe. Here’s what you can do:
Use Strong Passwords
Your passwords should be complex, unique, and not used across multiple accounts. Avoid using obvious personal information such as your name, birth date, or address as part of your password. Consider using a password manager to generate and store strong passwords, making it easier to keep track of your various logins. Here’s a tutorial from Consumer Reports that may be helpful in getting started with a password manager.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring you to enter a code sent to your phone or email in addition to your password. This ensures that even if someone gains access to your password, they still can’t log in without the second factor of authentication. Many financial institutions and other online services offer this added security feature, so be sure to enable it whenever possible.
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Be Wary of Phishing Scams
Phishing scams, as described above, are fraudulent attempts to obtain your personal information, such as your login credentials, credit card numbers, and other sensitive online financial information. These scams often come in the form of unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as your bank or an online retailer. Be cautious when entering personal information on unfamiliar websites and avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unsolicited emails.
Keep Your Software Up to Date
Software updates often include security patches that address vulnerabilities and protect against the latest threats. Make sure to install updates for your operating system, web browser, and other software as soon as they become available. This will help keep your devices and accounts secure from potential cyberattacks.
Monitor Your Accounts Regularly
Most of us don’t have time to monitor all our online financial information daily, or even weekly. However, it’s important to check your bank and credit card statements regularly – at least monthly – for any suspicious activity and report any unauthorized transactions immediately. It’s also a good idea to review your credit reports periodically to ensure that no one has opened new accounts in your name. The sooner you catch any fraudulent activity, the easier it will be to resolve the issue and prevent further damage.
Are You Protecting Your Online Financial Information?
It’s easy to assume that all of your online financial accounts have built-in protections from common scams – and most do. However, it’s critical to be sure you’re activating optional steps, like two-factor authentication so that your accounts are as protected as possible. By following the above tips, you can help protect your online financial information and reduce the risk of falling victim to fraud or identity theft. Remember to stay vigilant and be proactive in keeping your personal and financial data secure.
If you’d like to discuss more about safe ways to use online financial accounts, contact Lane Hipple Wealth Management Group at our Moorestown, NJ office by calling 856-249-4342, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or to schedule a complimentary discovery call, use this link to find a convenient time.
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