We have all heard horror stories of identity theft, stolen accounts, or the security of major companies failing. Hacking is a very real concern, but there are ways you can make sure your end of the security equation is taken care of. You may not have any control over whether retailers are hacked, but you do have a lot of control when protecting your information.
Easy to remember passwords are also easy to guess passwords. A lot of people make their passwords too simple and are at risk of someone being able to guess them. A secure password will be completely randomized with letters (both upper and lowercase), numbers, and special characters.
Your browser can save these randomized passwords for easy recall, or you can use a password manager app like LastPass. This will keep all of your passwords saved for future use and encrypt the passwords for your safety. Most people are not "hacked" but are vulnerable to their passwords being guessed or stolen.
Never give anyone your password. The most secure password in the world is useless if you give it away.
Encryption is the process of "masking" or hiding information as it travels throughout the web. Typically shown as 128 bit or 256 bit levels, these are measurements of the intensity of the "masking" itself. Every company that deals in secure information, like banking, investments, or personal information, will tell you whether their website and forms are encrypted.
This encryption will keep the hackers from stealing your information while it is in transit. The most vulnerable your information can be is when you are sending it in to them. Verify that they are using some form of encryption before entering any personal details.
Also, look in the top left corner of your browser next to the web address, and confirm that the site is on a secure connection. You should see a green or grey lock that means the connection and website has SSL security. This is another layer of protection while your information is in transit.
Phishing is not a funny way of spelling fishing. It is a very serious issue that millions have fallen victim to. This practice involves the perpetrator sending a fake email from a company you trust, usually asking for your personal details or login information. Reputable companies would never do this, but the imposters make their emails look like your bank's or PayPal's.
Just like we said before, never give your passwords or login info to anyone. Only log in to the company's website through their login screen, and verify that you are on the right web address.
Phishing can also be done over the phone, so don't assume that who you are talking to works for the company you do business with. A former scheme involved calling people and telling them their Visa card was compromised and they needed information to catch the culprit. This sounds legitimate, but your credit card company would never ask for your personal information over the phone. They already have it.
Free WiFi is especially nice of the coffee shop you frequent, and it is also nice for the hacker just outside monitoring your WiFi connection. The free, open access WiFi hotspots are convenient, but are not secure in any way. Just as easily as you connect to them, so can anyone else.
This means someone could monitor your internet browsing and see your personal information. They could also see what types of sites you frequent and use that information against you at a later date.
If you must use public WiFi, remember it is not secure, and don't do business over this connection.
Check for suspicious activity
Monitoring the activity of your accounts may seem like common sense, but with so many transactions each month it gets difficult. It is important to not only monitor your banking accounts but also your credit activity. The sooner you catch suspicious activity, the sooner you can contend with the repercussions.
Minimizing the impact of this threat will make repairing the damage much easier (and many credit cards offer a zero liability purchase protection system). Like we said earlier, you can not protect yourself from every threat, but you can take action if it does happen to you.
There were 16.7 million victims of identity theft in 2017 in the United States. You must be vigilant to protect yourself from the criminals out to do us financial harm.
The last aspect of security that a lot of people overlook is the software on your phone, tablet, or computer. The operating systems of the devices has built in security and is updated fairly regularly. Just because you do not like the inconvenience of updating doesn't mean you should put it off.
These updates are more than superficial changes to the way your device's operating system looks. The updates almost always include new security patches that protect your device from the newest threats that have been discovered. If your device is out of date and no longer receiving updates, it may be time to retire that device or update to a newer operating system.