There is a lot of media attention swirling around the virus that has created a global pandemic, but healthcare dangers aren’t the only viruses you need to be worrying about. While you should be taking every precaution to take care of your physical health, you should also spend considerable time working on your financial health. Every day, cybercriminals and masterminds of the dark web scour the digital landscape for unsuspecting victims. The primary targets are those with technological vulnerabilities with their financial accounts. Cybercrime continues to rise, and stronger cybersecurity measures are needed if your money is going to be secure. There is a continued evolution of digital attacks, and your strategy needs to be proactive if you want to keep your funds safe.
The Areas of Exposure
It is estimated that there are over eight billion devices around the world connected to the internet, which, when given the global population, averages out to more than three tech devices per person. People have unlimited access to information more than ever before, and while this has made some parts of daily living easier, it poses a significant security risk. Because of the ability to conduct business from mobile devices or through the cloud, many financial institutions have created access to accounts and banking services through apps, websites, and customer portals. This is music to the ears of the cybercriminals, as these services provide more access points for hacking. During the year 2017, there was a 130% increase in the number of fraud and breach incidents that occurred both offline and online. As a way to reduce the financial impact on consumers and institutions alike, over 40 states have created privacy rules and legislation to safeguard consumer’s financial data. However, even though institutions are doing their best to prevent security risks to your information and money, there are steps you can take to create a strong defense and maintain digital financial security.
Check Your Browsing Habits
More than half of the world’s population currently uses social media in form or another. While you may think are just keeping up with peers or researching a potential purchase on a company page, social networks are the most favored way for criminals to gain access to your financial data. Unfortunately, hackers have gotten a hold of tools that were stolen from the NSA and new tricks and hacks are expected to be forthcoming. Part of your defense against these efforts is more vigilance in your browsing habits. Carefully look at what sites you are visiting, what adds or pop-ups you are clicking on, or what files you are downloading. This is especially true with files that come from a social network. Whether you are accessing information from your mobile device, a laptop, or a tablet, be more conservative with the selections you make online.
Check Your Credit
You may not always be aware of a breach or hack that has occurred with your finances, so it is highly recommended that you check your credit at least once a year. Credit Sesame is a consumer-centric credit tracking organization, but they have expanded their services to include online banking. However, one of the benefits of their banking services is the ability to improve your credit while having your funds safely guarded. Through their online banking app, you can have access to daily score updates but also earn incentive cash when you improve your credit. Monitoring your credit lets you see when something has gone wrong, such as a missed payment or unauthorized credit activity. Your financial health has everything to do with your credit, so checking your credit helps you protect both. You can always dispute transactions or errors with the credit bureau of it looks like your information has been compromised.
Check Your Passwords
Whenever you create an account for either a mobile app or an online banking portal, be sure your password is strong and secure. Never use personal information like birthdays, anniversaries, or other things like family names. Another caution is to have a unique password for each account you have, both online access or app logins. Hackers are continually developing advanced hacking software, so passwords need to be complex is they are to be less of a risk. Security experts are recommending that you use a minimum of 12 symbols and letters, as well as employing two-factor identification.
Check Your Trash
The advice on getting rid of financial paperwork is to shred any documents before putting them in the trash. However, it isn’t so easy when it comes to digital information. Before you get rid of any hard drives, old computers, outdated electronic devices, or thumb drives, make sure you are wiping all devices clean. You can’t just delete files; hackers are very clever when it comes to retrieving your data. There are several free software programs that you can use to get rid of your files permanently. Don’t leave your items at a recycle center either, unless you know when the next pick up will be. You never know who might be rifling through the trash to get access to some new material.
Check Your Knowledge
You might not know the ins and outs of cybercrime, but do you know enough to take protective measures with your financial data? Before you sign up for banking services, a new line of credit, or investment services, check the company’s policy on issues of cybersecurity. Make sure there are strong measures in place to protect your finances from the threat of hacking or fraud.