Since Halloween is known for tricks and treats, it seems fitting that Cyber Security Awareness Month ends on Halloween. Admittedly, without a stretch of the imagination, cybersecurity can be a dull topic; unfortunately, it is essential for protecting yourself and the assets you have worked so hard to accumulate.
If you follow some of the best practice guidelines, you decrease your odds of being tricked.
Beware of Phishing
I’m not talking about the retirement fishing you may have been dreaming about. Email or text messages from reputable companies requesting you to reveal personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and even answers to security questions are called phishing. Over the years, these attempts have become more sophisticated, usually, look legitimate, and can create a sense of urgency, making it hard to distinguish. Do you think you can quickly identify phishing activity, or do you think you could be easily tricked?
Sonic Wall, a company that produces and distributes products designed for network security, has created an IQ quiz to help assess how vulnerable you may be to phishing schemes. It is only seven questions and quickly illustrates how sneaky fraudsters can be. I took the test and identified six out of the seven correctly. Take the quiz and try your skill at identifying fraudsters.
Be cautious and suspicious
Email and social media have transitioned how we easily share information with family, friends, and sometimes even criminals. While technology has made it convenient to share information on social media or in email, using technology to share can leave information readily available for identity theft. Be selective in the information you are willing to publicly share on social media or email. Be sure to leave out personal information such as your birth date, contact information, and mother’s maiden name, which are often pieces needed for identity theft.
Unexpected communication (phone calls, emails, and texts) asking you to send money or requesting personal information should also raise a red flag. If you get an unexpected call requesting funds or data, hang up. Even if it is from a company where you regularly do business. Criminals can make it appear as if they are calling from legitimate businesses. Instead of providing information first, call the company back using a known contact number to verify the request’s legitimacy before proceeding.
Keep your technology and passwords up-to-par
While it’s easy to ignore those pesky update reminders and think you will get to that later, keeping your web browser, operating system, software, and apps all up to date is essential in protecting your digital devices. Software and app updates often contain important security fixes leaving old software, operating systems, and browsers more susceptible to attacks. To minimize the risk, consider automatic updates.
And then there are the never-ending forever-changing passwords. Keeping up with your passwords is a job in and of itself. By now, you know the drill to create a unique password with a combination of characters, numbers, and symbols for each institution you are doing business. When creating your password, you should never use personal information, such as your social security number or date of birth. The number of unique passwords required today creates another challenge, remembering them. Consider utilizing an old-fashioned notebook or a secure electronic password manager to help you remember.
Opting for two-factor authentication along with your password offers an added layer of security and is encouraged to help keep your data safe. After enrolling, you’ll receive a one-time security code with your password each time you sign in, facilitating more robust account protection.
Every layer of protection can help keep your assets secure. Wherever you have your investments, consider the protocols they have in place for cybersecurity. Your advisor should be able to easily share with you the processes they have in place to protect your information and your assets. While the custodian does their part, security must be a partnership. Make sure you are doing your part and following best practice guidelines to complete the cybersecurity partnership.
This material is provided as a courtesy and for educational purposes only. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. Please consult your investment professional, legal or tax advisor for specific information pertaining to your situation. This article contains links to articles or other information that may be contained on a third-party website. River City Wealth Management is not responsible for and does not control, adopt, or endorse any content contained on any third-party website. The information contained herein is derived from sources deemed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results.