October 5th is World Financial Planning Day, which was established to spread awareness about the importance of financial planning. A sound financial plan can help you save for a better future and navigate uncertain times caused by the economy or other unexpected factors. A vast majority (94%) of certified financial planning professionals agree that Americans with a plan are much more likely to make progress toward their goals, whatever those may be. And an integral aspect of creating an effective plan is knowing the role cybersecurity plays within it. To help you get a better understanding of this, here are some finance-focused cybersecurity tips, tricks, and habits that you need to know.
Safeguard Your Financial Data
Personal information in the form of data remains a heavily sought-after target for cybercriminals. This data is often all that is needed to commit fraud in its many forms. Your personal information related to financial data specifically should be safeguarded as best as possible in order to reduce the chance of it falling into the wrong hands.
Nearly all of us take part in online banking, and although the financial institutions that you bank with have established security measures in place, don’t let that give you a false sense of security. Double check the security protocols your financial institutions have and then only access accounts that you hold with them from secure and trusted networks and devices. Most major banks have adequate security measures, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to data breaches and other security issues. If you hold any crypto accounts, the risk of compromised data or financial loss increases as these platforms and portals are often less secure and, thus, more frequently attacked by criminals.
The Power of Passwords and other Protocols
Another aspect of buttoning up your online banking habits is for you to create and maintain strong passwords to help prevent threat actors from accessing your financial information. It might sound redundant, but strong and unique passwords remain a good step towards keeping personal information safe. Use a different password for each financial account you hold, and never share this information with anyone. You can use a password generator if you’re not good at creating good passwords yourself. Don’t use the same password (or even something slightly similar) for your financial accounts that you hold for your non-financial accounts. This is basically like leaving the front door unlocked with cash stashed under your mattress.
In addition to upping your password game, two-factor authentication (2FA) is another good thing to add to your financial accounts. 2FA can help prevent someone from logging into your accounts even if they somehow crack the password. This works by sending you a text message or email whenever you log on to your account. You then need to confirm the login attempt before gaining account access, which is a simple and effective protocol for increasing online security.
Be Careful with Credit Cards
Credit cards make online shopping a breeze, and you have access to nearly anything you want in the world with only a few clicks. But thieves and scammers also need only a few seconds with your credit card number to make unauthorized purchases or even for them to make cash withdrawals. Keeping a close eye on all your financial accounts can alert you to any unauthorized spending, as can signing up for fraud prevention services with your bank or other financial institution. If you notice any unknown and unexpected charges, contact your credit card provider or bank immediately to freeze your cards.
Another good habit to get into is not saving your credit card information online. Storing your credit card information with a retailer or with website where you shop is very convenient, but it’s also convenient for criminals. The more places that you store your credit card information, the more potential there is for that valuable information to be stolen. To avoid this undesired outcome, take a few extra seconds to manually enter your credit card information each time, and always choose not to save the information if you are prompted to.
Stay Suspicious to Avoid Scams
Attempting to gain access to your financial information is one thing, but bad actors will also try to steal money from you directly through any number of common and not-so-common scams. You need to stay informed and always remain suspicious to help avoid falling victim to one of these.
There are too many scams out there to mention here, but always keep in mind that if something seems like a scam, it probably is. That’s simply an unfortunate reality of the modern age in which we live. The threats can appear as phishing attempts through email that trick you into clicking a dangerous link or enticing you to submit your personal information. Scammers can also spoof phone numbers and emails wherein they pretend to be a person or representative you might trust. If anyone calls or tries to otherwise contact you in an attempt to get your personal or financial information unexpectedly, remain cautious and never reveal this if you are at all skeptical.
Phishing scams and other tactics that cybercriminals use will not always directly target your financial information. Sometimes the intent of these attacks is to install malware or other viruses onto your device that can then be used to steal information, take over accounts, or commit future fraud without you realizing this.
Keeping all of your software and apps up to date is critical in helping to limit the chances of malicious software finding its way onto your devices. This includes updating the operating systems on your phone and computer and any security or anti-virus software that you use. You should also ensure that all of your financial apps are updated to the latest version because the developers add new security measures often as new threats appear.
Putting it all Together
Effective financial planning and cybersecurity measures go hand in hand in today’s digital environment. The more steps that you can take to ensure that your financial data remains safe and secure, the less chance you’ll have of being forced to contend with fraud and other related issues. You can’t prevent cyberattacks altogether, but you can take preventative measures to limit your potential exposure. And with the onslaught of attacks out there, every little bit helps.
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*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.