This week, a client notified us of fraudulent activity that included a bank account, a credit card and an Amazon account. When a client notifies us of a breach, the investment accounts are immediately flagged, and the entire staff is notified. If someone calls into the Raymond James 800# for account information or transactions, they are referred back to the branch. Our commitment is to protect your accounts and information by verifying to whom we are speaking and if the requested transaction is expected or unusual in nature. If we suspect fraud there is a mechanism to escalate the situation before any distributions are made from an account. Additionally, we will send personally identifying information through encrypted email. We feel the benefit of having close, familiar relationships with our clients is one more barrier put up to protect you.
As the stay-at-home orders have pushed us farther than ever into the digital world, we wanted this week’s Bookmark to focus on security. Do a quick check of your hardware and software, consider updating your passwords if you haven’t in a while and be vigilant against fraud attempts.
Think of this process like securing your home. The front door may be locked but if the back door is open someone can still enter. Do you have an alarm for your doors but not your windows? Do you need two separate keys for two separate locks to open a door? In order to ensure your safety, consider these tips to protect yourself and your information.
Today, hackers can crack passwords based on information given in social media accounts, such as a pet’s name. Therefore, it is crucial to create a unique password that does not follow the most typical passwords. Here are some tips to create your own unique password-
- Use passphrases over passwords
- Use mixed numbers and letters to increase the uniqueness of your password
- Do not repeat the same passwords
- Change your passwords periodically (recommended to change every 30-90 days)
- Always use Two-Factor Authentication***
***Footnote*** Two-Factor Authentication is a way to further secure your accounts. Upon entering your password, you will be asked to authenticate your account by entering a code sent to your phone or device. Entering this code will admit you into your account and keep you safe from potential cyber threats.
WIFI SECURITY, SOFTWARE, AND HARDWARE
While password protection is crucial, it is important to consider your wireless network security. Using encryption on your wireless network is the best way to protect yourself from hackers.
- Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
- Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
The strongest network that you can have for protection is WPA2 while routers, like WEP, will likely not protect you from common hacker programs. Many hackers obtain access through unsecured or outdated wireless systems, it may be time for an upgrade. For more information on how to protect your wireless network from outside threats, click here.
Antivirus software has the ability to sift through information that could be suspicious or harmful to the PC. While it cannot detect when an intruder has gained access to the PC the software has the ability to recognize foreign code that could be linked to a hacker attempt. In addition, the software can learn and distinguish benign and harmful programs on the computer. To determine your need and potential software choice, read more.
Unfortunately, antivirus software cannot protect against all attempted hacks. However, by protecting your PC’s hardware, you will be able to increase your protection and security form outside threats. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Using a firewall to create barrier between your information and the outside world
- Keeping your PC, browser, and applications up to date
- Backing up your computer and data
- Ignoring spam
As intruders are finding more ways than ever to hack into your PC, following these steps can be a great place to start in increasing the security on your computer.
AVOIDING EMAIL HACKERS
Hackers have continued to find new and creative ways to break into accounts. Be vigilant even when opening emails from people you know! Use a trust-your-gut instinct before clicking on any links or opening documents.
- Check link locations and read the entire address (usually there are clues in the length or structure that it is fraudulent)
- Instead of clicking on an email for a message, log in to the account directly
- Never open attachments, unless you are aware of the contents
- Understand how certain companies communicate. For example, Amazon does not call over the phone regarding purchases, the IRS does not call regarding taxes.
- Use two-factor authentication
Using these tools will lessen your vulnerability to outside threats. For more information to protect your emails from hackers, click here.
AVOIDING SOCIAL MEDIA HACKERS
With social media becoming increasingly popular during this time of quarantine, hackers are infiltrating social media accounts and posting harmful information that cannot be erased. Be cautious of taking quizzes, using facial recognition software, and playing games. Only engage in private messages with people you know and refrain from sharing anything that is meant as a mass warning or says, “copy and paste.” These are rife with hacker code that uses that social media site as a portal into all your other accounts and information. Fortunately, there are ways to proactively protect your account such as:
- Disabling GPS
- Be selective when accepting friends
- Do not reveal personal information
Your social media accounts, while great for connection, put you at risk if you do not take certain precautions.
As you have learned previously, Everplans offers a way for you to plan and organize your finances. Finances can often be the most vulnerable during a cyberattack. Therefore, it is important to place your financial information in a place you trust. Everplans provides you with a strong, secure location to plan and adjust finances. Its two-step authentication and password protection provide another layer of security to prevent fraud and theft. In addition, you may appoint only certain people to view your plans. These “deputies” will only be assigned sections authorized by you and released at your discretion. To examine Everplans for your financial future, click here.
If you have questions, please give us a call. We are not security experts but we can help guide you to keep you protected.
Stay safe! -The Bookends Team
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