4 Cybersecurity Tips By: Troy GuerretteAIF®, ChFC®, QPFC, CLU®

1.Maintain awareness.

While you don’t have to be paralyzed by fear, a healthy dose of skepticism can go a long way. Don’t click on suspicious attachments or links in emails—either personal or workplace emails. Even if you know the sender, opening the email can infect your account if the sender’s email has been hacked. Contact the person directly to be sure. A sender who has been hacked will be glad to know so he or she can do something about it!

Any email from a financial institution that asks you for personal information or passwords should be a big red flag. Don’t click on embedded links or attachments, either. They may be attempts at phishing—trying to gain your secure data via a communication disguised as an email from a reputable company. Sometimes you can spot phishing attempts through spelling or grammar mistakes. But sometimes they look genuine. They may claim something is wrong to get you to act before thinking it through. To see what’s really going on, contact your financial institution directly. 

Educating yourself about cybercrime can help, too. Criminals prey on the uninformed. It’s good to be aware of the latest method of attack—whether it’s an email from a foreign prince asking for money or a message that looks like it’s from your bank asking for your account number. Staying up to date can help you know what to look for. 

Cybercriminals rely on human error, so exercising a little caution is a great way to protect yourself and your personal information. Remember, awareness is the best defense!

2. Be smart about social media.

Social media can be fun, but it pays to be careful about what you share and who can see it. These sites may not be the best places to share personal, secure information. 

Make sure you understand the security and privacy settings and how to use them. While the safest thing is to make your posts private—so that only those you approve can see them—many people using platforms like Twitter and Instagram make their posts public so anyone can follow and interact with them. 

If your posts are public, make sure you wouldn’t mind a criminal seeing anything you share. Because they’re looking! If your address is listed on Facebook and anyone can see your posts (the “public” setting), then posting vacation photos or tagging yourself in a faraway location tells potential burglars that no one is home. 

Do you use your pet’s name or your kids’ names for passwords? If your social media posts are public and you mention their names, anyone can see what they are and may more easily access your accounts. That goes for other personal information, too—like a maiden name, your birthday, or your anniversary. Think before posting that information where anyone can see it. 

Some cybercriminals use your public social media posts to craft phishing emails specific to your interests, making it more likely you’ll click on their links. So it’s more important than ever to be vigilant; don’t click on suspicious links or attachments in emails. 

Have fun with social media! Just be sensible about the amount and types of information you’re sharing with the world.

3. Secure your mobile devices.


Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets may contain information you want to keep secure. Depending on how you use them, they may hold your email, financial data, passwords, personal information about family and friends, and more. Yet it’s all too common for people not to use the available security features. 

Enable a password or personal identification number (PIN). This is the first line of defense if you lose your mobile device or if it’s stolen. If you have fingerprint identification or facial recognition, use that, too. 

Some devices have a five- or ten-try lockdown. If someone enters the wrong password a designated number of times, all the information on the device is deleted. If your device has remote tracking capability, such as Find my iPhone, use it! You also may want to enable the feature that allows you to remotely wipe the data from your mobile device, if it’s available. 

It’s a good idea to regularly update the operating system and the apps. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile devices, but vendors continually update their applications and software to patch vulnerabilities. Keeping everything up to date ensures that you have the latest protection.
 
Cybercriminals use apps, too. Only download apps from trusted sources, such as the App Store or Google Play. Unfortunately, apps from some third party app stores may include malware that steals your data after the apps are downloaded.
 
Mobile devices can make our lives easier, but it’s good to be cautious with the sensitive information they contain. Make sure you know your device’s security features and how to use them! 

4. Monitor your accounts.

If you haven’t signed up for online accounts for your financial institutions, you may want to consider it. Online account access and auto-alerts can help you react quickly to suspicious activity. They may even help protect you from a common method of cybercrime. If you register for an online account with a financial institution, a criminal who steals your information can’t register and gain control of your account.
 
In the past, you may have found out about unauthorized credit card or debit card purchases if the financial company called you, your card was declined at the store, or you noticed unusual purchases on your monthly statement. With online accounts, you can find out much more quickly. 

Regularly check your accounts for unauthorized transactions, and immediately contact your financial institution if there’s a transaction you don’t recognize. Many companies have apps for your smartphone or tablet so you can check on the go—and some even let you dispute transactions through the app. 

Some accounts allow you to set up automatic alerts for unusual activity. You can get a text or an email if a transaction exceeds a predetermined amount or if your card is used outside your normal geographic range. 

It’s not just your credit card or debit card you should monitor. Keep track of your bank account, brokerage account, retirement plan, and others. Unfortunately, cybercriminals often hack into large databases and steal secure information, like credit card numbers. Knowing what’s going on with your financial accounts gives you the power to respond immediately if your account is compromised. 

Take online security seriously.

Following these four simple tips can help boost your online security. Just remember to maintain awareness, be smart about social media, secure your mobile devices, and monitor your accounts. 
  

Take online security seriously.

Following these four simple tips can help boost your online security. Just remember to maintain awareness, be smart about social media, secure your mobile devices, and monitor your accounts. 

Troy Guerrette

Troy Guerrette is a vice president with Retirement Plan Services. In this role, he develops the regional business plan for Lincoln Financial Group to increase new client sales with the Institutional Retirement Distribution team.

Troy joined Lincoln Financial in 1996 and has over 25 years of industry...

More about Troy Guerrette
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