These days, it’s as important to lock our online homes as it is to lock our cars or physical homes. I was reminded of this recently when I checked my email and found a barrage of middle-of-the-night credit card purchases I hadn’t made. A thief had hacked in despite the fairly advanced security settings I have on that account.
Cybersecurity is a moving target because criminals are constantly improving their tactics for exploiting both technical and human vulnerabilities. So, when we think about security tips and techniques, it’s important to understand the security mechanisms on our devices, but also the habits and behaviors that either increase or decrease the dangers to our online presence.
Here are some key tasks and resources for improving your digital privacy and security.
“There is no silver bullet solution with cybersecurity. A layered defense is the only viable defense.” ~James Scott, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology
Whenever possible, set up multifactor authentication on your email, social media, shopping, and financial services accounts for extra protection. This method adds another layer of security by confirming your identity via text message, email, code, fingerprint or facial recognition. Yes, this can be inconvenient, but inconvenience is part of the new standard for privacy in 2022.
Bad actors rely on security gaps that we either don’t know about or fail to keep up to date. Your personal computer, mobile phone, tablet, and other devices periodically receive updates for their operating systems. Most of these include security-vulnerability fixes, and you should always apply those updates or, better yet, configure your device so they happen automatically. Likewise, enable automatic updates on your antivirus and malware software, and your applications, especially web browsers.
Take a moment to reflect before clicking links in emails or downloading email attachments. Most cyberattacks start with a phishing email. These opportunistic messages may look legitimate, but they’re designed to fool you into
“Hoaxes use weaknesses in human behavior to ensure they are replicated and distributed. In other words, hoaxes prey on the Human Operating System.” ~Stewart Kirkpatrick, digital strategy consultant
revealing a password or other sensitive information or to infect your device with malicious software known as malware.
Being suspicious about phone calls is also wise, as scam calls requesting personal information are increasing. Be sure you recognize the caller and ask for their personal information and a call back number if you have doubts. Most scammers will respond by hanging up. If you’re still unsure, contact the bank, credit card company, or other institution the scammer claims to represent.
Don’t use generic or simple passwords. Don’t reuse passwords on separate accounts. Change passwords on a regular basis. Consider using a password manager to generate and store unique passwords. If your credit card or other accounts offer password change alerts, as mine recently did, sign up for those alerts and heed them.
Criminals focus on gathering personal information shared on social media or elsewhere that can help them hack into your accounts. It’s wise to solidify your privacy settings in each of your social media accounts and to limit the details you might share about your home and family.
All three major US credit bureaus provide credit freezes and fraud alerts at no cost to you if you call to request them. Freezes and alerts can protect you from identity theft or prevent further misuse of your information if it has been stolen.
Finally, Kaspersky offers a good cyber hygiene checklist (halfway down the page), and this checklist is also a great place to start for identifying your most important online security tasks.
If you have any questions about how you can better protect your identity, please reach out to your advisor. If you ever become aware that you’ve become a victim of identity theft, please contact TGS immediately so that we can place an alert on your Raymond James accounts.
By Joan M. Hill / Communications Coordinator
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