Updated: Oct 26
Protecting what you save is a conversation that is commonplace when working with an advisor, and usually is discussed in the realm of protecting one with insurance. However, one should also be vigilant and knowledgeable in the area of cybersecurity. Every day a vulnerability is exposed, whether it be with a large company or a couple on the precipice of retirement, and this leads to possible identity theft, fraud, unwanted transactions, and potentially loss of savings.
Below are 9 tips that you should understand and implement to help protect your nest egg.
Be Weary of Emails and Links You Receive
A phishing email is designed to look and feel like a real email, and typically has an urgent call to action. They may try to impersonate a banking institution, IRS, or other financial body. There is also a link which typically leads to a malware/ransomware which can manifest itself in your device and cause data loss.
This is a very common way that hackers will try to enter your device. Oftentimes the best way to determine a fake email vs a real one is to view the actual sender’s email address. Usually a phishing attempt will feature an address with a string of letters, symbols, and numbers vs a real address.
Don’t Share Login Information
Be mindful about who can access your accounts, including any third party apps that you may link from time to time. Ideally this should be reviewed at least once per year.
In the event you do require that someone else access an account, such as a trusted contact, ensure that this is agreed upon in writing prior to giving access in all circumstances.
Use a Password Manager
Oftentimes people use a password manager on their browser, which saves their passwords, and does have some layer of security, or they potentially write them down on paper or in a Word document (Not Recommended). A standalone password manager is a better option. A password manager has you create a master password and often other security measures to help protect your saved data. In the event that your physical computer is stolen or compromised, a browser manager may autofill your passwords while a standalone password manager would make the would-be data thief enter a master password to be able to access that data. It is very important to remember your master password when using a manager, though.
Create Strong Passwords
Each password should not be a repeat of other used passwords. They should contain at least 10 characters with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers. Symbols also help here to increase the complexity of your password. Keep in mind that a hacker may attempt to learn about you personally in order to guess your passwords. To mitigate this, avoid using birthdays, or other words that are associated with you such as last names, workplaces, schools you attended, etc.
Enable & Use 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) for All Financial Accounts
Two-Factor authentication may be in the form of a code received by email, text, or phone call. This is typically the most preferred route to ensure your accounts are easily accessed by others. It may also be security questions or identifying a specific picture associated with your account. This adds another layer of security if someone does manage to crack a password.
Utilize a VPN When Outside of Secure Wifi in a Public Setting
If using public wifi, it is recommended to install a VPN in order to create an encrypted browsing session on your device. This helps prevent unwanted intrusions while in public. Also be mindful of the type of websites you are logging onto when on public wifi at places like coffee shops, where hackers may be waiting to gain access to your accounts. It is recommended to do more browsing on public wifi and less financial or personal transactions/tasks unless you have a VPN in place.
Maintain Device Security Software
This includes Firewall and Antivirus. Some computers may come with this pre-installed, but it is still wise to consider reviewing the overall security on your device annually. For a business, ensure that you have installed a higher level of security on your home and personal devices that goes beyond what would normally be available.
Enable Dark Web Monitoring
Information on the dark web is unfortunately very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. It is ideal to know if any of your information does appear on the dark web that you should take increased scrutiny of any applications, logins, or accounts tied with that data and report to the Federal Trade Commission on IdentityTheft.gov. Credit agencies, antivirus, or other data protection software applications typically have dark web monitoring built in.
NFP makes cybersecurity education a key tenet of the financial planning process as it is important to know and implement appropriately to reduce risk of exploitation, and you can expect that it to be thoroughly discussed as part of our service offering. A major cyber attack can impact one’s net worth and regardless if big or small, will be quite a stressful event.