In today’s modern world, we are constantly experiencing a rapidly changing technological environment. While technology has definitely made our lives easier, it’s important for an individual to be acquainted with the ways in which technology can harm as well. Without the proper know-how to ensure your digital self is secured, you could be exposing yourself to a costly threat and not know it. As 2014 and 2015 have shown us, large-scale, widespread security breaches are taking place, and more personal data is being compromised. With more American’s losing privacy every day, here are just a few ways to keep you more secure when navigating the digital landscape.
1. Password Security: Keep sensitive files, such as those with account numbers and balances password protected. When sending sensitive files over email, make sure that all files are encrypted so in the event your email account is compromised, your statements will contain an added security feature. Keep separate passwords for every account you have, and keep a list in a safe and secure place that is completely away from your computer.
2. Double Check Before Opening Suspicious Files or Emails: If you receive an email from a financial professional who is requesting personal information, it’s best to delay answering the email right away if you don’t recognize them. Try to avoid opening any file that comes off as suspicious as well. All too often there are people that fall prey to phishing scams. A simple phone call to the financial professional you typically work with to verify the message could save you a substantial problem.
3. Keep an updated machine: Make sure you have the latest security software, update your web browser regularly, and ensure your operating systems are all up to date. Keeping them current is one of the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
4. Look for the “S”: When using online banking and shopping, make sure to check that the website’s security features are enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which informs you that the website takes additional measures to help keep your information secure. “Http://” is not a secure web address.
5. Control your privacy settings: Adjusting the privacy and security settings on websites to match your level of comfort for information sharing when they are available.
6. Create a Primary e-mail address: Create an email address specifically for your personal finances. Never share this email address with anyone. Don’t use this address for subscriptions, mailings, or anything else. Anything that comes through unrelated to what you want to use the account for is treated as junk and should be categorized as such. This will help to keep your correspondence clean when dealing with the institutions that have access to your personal information.
As technology evolves, so does the need to evolve with it. Utilizing these tips could potentially help to prevent a financial loss or identify theft, but staying informed and well educated about potential cyber security threats is one of the best ways to prevent one from directly impacting you.