Protecting yourself from identity theft and other cyber threats is a year-round concern. In this article, we’ll explain how to prep your devices and accounts for security and stay aware to spot phishing scams before you become a victim. If you have any questions, our friendly employees are here to help!
How To Keep Your Personal Info Safe Online
With data breaches all over the news, it’s important to know the steps you can take to protect your sensitive, personal, and financial information from hackers and scammers.
Keep Passwords Private and Unique
- Create strong passwords of at least 16 characters and use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t use the same password for more than one account. A Password Manager is a great tool for keeping all your logins to different accounts in one safe and secure place. It can even generate strong passwords for you.
- Change your passwords regularly, at least once a year.
- Check Have I Been Pwned? to see if any of your existing passwords have been exposed in a security breach.
- Don’t share passwords with anyone, especially via social media, email, text message, or any other written form of electronic communication.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
MFA adds an extra layer of security to your account logins by requiring the use of two or more credentials, such as a password and a temporary security code sent to your phone. You may already be required to use MFA on some of your accounts; if not, sign up where possible.
Additionally, when you use MFA you’ll receive alerts of any suspicious attempts to log in to your accounts. This is a sign that your password may have been compromised and should be changed immediately.
Examine Your Wi-Fi Set-up
- Use a password-protected Wi-Fi connection. WPA encryption is the best for security purposes.
- If you haven’t already, change the default password your router came with.
- When using public Wi-Fi networks, avoid any online activity that could reveal sensitive, personal, or financial information such as online or mobile banking and online shopping.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever possible to ensure the safest online experience.
Avoid Oversharing on Social Media
Be mindful of what you post to social media. It may seem like you’re just innocently sharing with friends, but your posts may give hackers a clue to your security question answers. While you’re thinking about social media, check your privacy settings to make sure your posts are only viewed by people you know or have verified as non-malicious. And of course, never share personal bank, medical, or travel information on social media.
Encrypt Your Data
Look for a padlock icon to the left of the website address in your browser bar. That means your personal and financial information will be safe when it’s transmitted.
How To Keep Your Devices Secure
Securing your devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet) will also protect your personal data from being stolen.
Beware of Phishing Emails
- Don’t open attachments or click on links sent to you by unknown sources. Even if it looks like a recognizable sender, if you weren’t expecting anything, it could be a scammer impersonating your bank, employer, etc. You could compromise your device, personal information, or server network.
- Get into the habit of hovering over links to see the full URL destination before clicking on any links sent to you via email or social media message. Beware of suspicious text messages with links as well.
- Look closer at the sender’s email address. It may be similar to a legitimate person or institution you know, but off by one or two characters. What about the syntax, grammar, and style in which the message was sent? If it is supposed to be a professional communication but is riddled with errors, this is a red flag.
- No legitimate institution, including your bank and government offices, will ever ask for your personal information (SSN, DOB, bank account number, login credentials, etc.) via email or phone. Do not send your personal info to anyone online or over the phone.
- If you believe yourself to be the victim of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov for advice on the next steps.
Beware of Social Engineering
Tricking you into sharing login information isn’t hackers’ only tactic. If they can’t exploit a security vulnerability, they’ll find another way. Social engineering can be considered an attack on your mind instead of your device. Hackers get to know you through publicly available information and then try to trick you into trusting them as a friend or peer.
Directly Type Your Bank’s Web Address Into Your Browser
Another way to avoid clicking on a scam link is to visit the website directly by typing its address into your browser’s navigation bar. Whether it’s your bank or a popular store, be safe instead of sorry by going straight to the source.
Keep Operating System and Software Updated
Automate OS and software updates to make sure you’re always running the current and secure version of any OS/software you’re working off of. Don’t wait–update today!
Use Security Software
Install a reputable anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall program. Then keep it updated to protect your computer files, passwords, and data from being targeted by cyber scams.
Additional Tips For Protecting Your Identity and Information
Build these good cybersecurity habits into your everyday routine!
Employees could be more vulnerable to phishing emails and other scams while working remotely, especially if they are in a household with multiple members all using the same network. The more users on your network, the greater the risk of exposing devices to malware, potentially compromising company devices and information. Your employer likely has a VPN you can use for added security when working from home.
Shred All Documents Containing Personal Info
Practice physical security by shredding old bills, bank statements, medical records, etc., once you no longer need them. On the digital side, wipe your computer or device’s hard drive clean before selling or donating it.
Take Advantage of Free Credit Reports
Under Federal Law, everyone can receive one free report per year from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian via annualcreditreport.com. Currently, consumers can access these three reports on a free weekly basis through April 2021, due to the pandemic. When reviewing your credit report, look for anything out of the ordinary: new accounts you don’t recognize, derogatory marks, unusual balances, or inquiries, etc.
Sign Up For Text Alerts From Your Bank or Credit Union
Most banks and credit unions offer account alerts or notifications through online and mobile banking to let you know of any suspicious activity including large withdrawals or transfers, account closures, new check orders, etc.
Inspect Your Apps
Some mobile apps could contain a malicious program disguised as a game or tool that would potentially compromise your device’s operating system and expose sensitive, personal data.
Additionally, many apps use cross permissions to connect to other apps or websites, which increases the risk of your personal information being intercepted by hackers or being part of a data leak. It’s best to remove apps and app connections/permissions when not in use.
SkyOne is here to help!
As your credit union, we care about the safety and security of our members and community. We’re here to help you stay on top of your account with Online and Mobile Banking alerts. Sign up for alerts here, check out our online banking tools, and download the SkyOne Mobile Banking app!