Protecting yourself from potential calamity
Cyber-crime affects both large corporations and private individuals. You’ve likely read about the large data breaches in the business world. These crimes are expensive and on the rise. The U.S. Identity Theft Resource Center says that these corporate data breaches reached a peak of 1,632 in 2017. The response to the growing need for data protection has been swift and powerful; venture capitalists have invested $5.3 billion into cybersecurity firms.1
That’s good news for big companies, but what about the individual at home? What can you do to protect data breaches to your personal accounts?
For most private individuals, the key idea is to both:
- Know what to do if you’ve had a data breach
- Know what you can do that might help prevent a data breach
Total cybersecurity for your financial matters isn’t something that can be summarized in a single short article like this one, but I would like to offer you two suggestions that can help you get started. Both can be done from home and represent reactive and preventative measures.
1. Credit Freeze. By reactive, I mean a step that you can take after the fact. In many cases, a credit freeze might be a reaction to identity theft or a data breach. It specifically restricts access to your credit report, which has information that could be used to open new lines of credit in your name. The freeze prevents this, but it will not prevent a criminal from, for instance, using an active credit card number they’ve discovered. Therefore, even under a credit freeze, you still need to monitor for unauthorized transactions.2
While the freeze is in place, you can still access your free annual credit report. You also won’t have issues with credit background searches for job or renter’s applications or when you buy insurance; the freeze doesn’t affect those areas of your credit history. You can even apply for a new line of credit during a credit freeze, though that requires at least a temporary elimination of the freeze during the process. Ending or pausing a credit freeze can be done by calling the big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) or by visiting their respective websites.2
2. Password Manager. This is a preventative measure. We all know a poor soul who uses “Password” as their password. While you probably know the importance of strong passwords, the truth is that cybercrooks have many tricks and skills to figure out passwords. In fact, 20% of Internet consumers have experienced some sort of account compromise. That comes at a time when about 70% of consumers operate 10 or more accounts. Some people, against best practice, use the same password across all of their accounts. A good security measure to avoid that is password management software – applications that allow us to keep all our numerous passwords encrypted in a vault and drop them into our browsers when requested. While there are options to save and encrypt passwords on most Internet browsers, their security measures are limited. Password managers focus solely on security and may be more frequently updated than the browsers' security features. This attention to securing your passwords might be the difference between a successful attempt and a blocked attempt by a criminal to access to your sensitive personal information.3,4
This is a fairly basic pair of tips, but they are worth thinking about and may prove helpful to your identity theft prevention efforts. There are, of course, other, more-advanced choices for you to explore. Talk with your trusted financial professional about additional cybersecurity best practices that you might consider.
Provided by Patriot Asset Advisors
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell
any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrati ve of any particular investment.
Advisory services offered through: Patriot Asset Advisors, LLC an Ohio Registered Investment Adviser. Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not endorsed by Patriot Asset Advisors or its affiliates. All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy. The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor.
1 - forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/10/09/the-need-for-a-breakthrough-in-cybersecurity/ [10/9/19]
2 - consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs [9/2019]
3 - wired.com/story/best-password-managers/ [9/25/19]
4 - digitalguardian.com/blog/uncovering-password-habits-are-users-password-security-habits-improving-infographic [12/18/18]