As Americans increasingly turn to the internet to connect, work and shop, the threat of malicious hackers and identity thieves continues to rise. We in the financial services industry are upping efforts to secure clients’ information, but there are additional efforts individuals must consider as part of a more holistic approach.
Know the Risks
According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Americans have experienced a major data breach, including anything from fraudulent credit card charges to compromised account numbers. Hackers often need only one or two important pieces of personal information to cause a large amount of damage that can take years to clear up. The key is to prevent your information from landing in the wrong hands in the first place.
Be Cautious When Using Public Networks
Private information belongs on private computers and private networks as much as possible. Using public computers or free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop is fine if you want to browse the web and read the news. But avoid entering passwords to financial accounts or anything that might reveal your Social Security number on public channels.
Use a Password Manager
Regularly updating passwords with difficult-to-guess sequences is one of the safest things you can do for your identity online. Are you using a spreadsheet to keep track of all of them? It may be time to upgrade to a proper password manager. Relying on your web browser or operating system to save passwords to your favorite sites opens you up to unnecessary risk. Most password managers encrypt your data and ensure all passwords meet ever-changing standards while keeping them protected.