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Useful and Easy Cybersecurity Tips


I really don’t have to tell you this, but cybersecurity is a serious issue.  We’ve all heard about and maybe dealt personally with issues related to cybersecurity.  I’ve heard stories ranging from someone else filing a tax return under your name to identity theft to data breach (think Equifax).  It is becoming a bigger issue everywhere, including the world of financial services.  I thought it was worthwhile to share some tips I have learned over the years.

Don’t Use the Same Password for Everything – My sons told me the story of someone they know who had a bad breakup.  The ex knew a password to one of his online accounts.Unfortunately, the boy used the same password for everything.  Well, let’s just say the ex did some rather inappropriate things on the boy’s social media accounts on his behalf. 

Keep Your Birthday to Yourself – We all do it.  Retailers are always asking for our birthdays.They entice us with a free coffee, percentage discount on a next purchase, or just as part of an overall “rewards” program.  If a retailer is hacked (think Target a few years back), hackers can easily get your date of birth as many companies store this data in the same place as your credit card information.  Talk about convenience shopping for the hackers!

Lock Your Electronics – Odds are your phone and computers all have locks on them.  While they might slow you down a bit, it is worthwhile to use the locking features. 

KISS Is a Bad Idea for Passwords – Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) may work when it comes to investing, but not when creating a password.  Your passwords should really be longer than 8 characters. And I’m pretty sure a password of “password1234” doesn’t really qualify.

Email Scams Are Still Out There – While the emails from the Nigerian prince have been around for years and even Apple has made fun of them (see this commercial from Bill Hadar), they still work.These emails can take a variety of forms from IRS to Social Security Administration to as simple as your ATT email will be disconnected if you don’t fill out an online form.  Be cautious with what you open and/or download. 

Back Up Data – It is probably worthwhile to back up your important documents offline.  I’m not advocating printing up every single important document you have, however, a good quality portable hard drive is a solid investment.  Just be sure to lock the hard drive too. 

Less Is More – Okay, this may be the opposite of my message of KISS is a bad idea, but hear me out.  Refrain from sharing too much personal data online.  While you may want to share constant and real-time updates on your vacation across all your social media platforms, announcing you aren’t home could be helpful information to someone with bad intentions.  You know, like a robber.  Also, while it is great to get all the Happy Birthday messages, see the note above about dates of birth.  The only social media platform I am active on is LinkedIn and my birthday is January 1st (not really my birthday) and only I can see it. 

Keep An Eye On Your Accounts – Probably the best defense is to stay on top of your accounts and check them on a regular basis.  Maybe instead of waiting to receive all those birthday rewards from retailers you could remember to check your accounts on your birthday.Not a lot of fun, but definitely worth taking a few minutes at least once a year to make sure everything is in good order.