Five Tips to Remain Cybersecure

Five Tips to Remain Cybersecure

When it comes to cybersecurity, many of us are prone to thinking, “It won’t happen to me,” or “What’s the big deal if someone gets into my email?” Unfortunately, the reality is it can happen to anyone, and what may seem like a little thing can result in the loss of a lot of wealth.

At Sound Stewardship, we recently had an experience that brought the importance of this issue to the forefront. I received an email from a client requesting to move some money into a new checking account. We had recently made some transfers for him, and I instantly noted that he never mentioned he was changing bank accounts or anticipating moving funds again. When I called him to follow up, he had no knowledge of this email, which had been sent from his own email account, in his own voice, even using the fonts and signatures he uses regularly.

This was a scary situation, because the email was really convincing. If our team hadn’t been aware of security issues and committed to always getting a verbal confirmation from clients before moving funds, this client could have easily lost thousands of dollars.

It reminded all of us here at Sound Stewardship how crucial it is to have due diligence and to always follow up with our clients by phone, even if it seems time consuming or burdensome.

And we want you, our clients, to know that these extra phone calls are valuable, not just an unnecessary redundancy.

The reality is, there are hackers out there who are watching many of us, waiting for an opportunity to impersonate us to take over accounts of all sorts. I don’t say this to scare you, but to encourage you to be attentive, follow your gut, and not dismiss red flags.

So, how do you find the balance between being safe and attentive without being constantly paranoid in this digital age of hacking? Here are five tips that can help keep you cybersecure.

 

  1. Change passwords often, and make them complex. Don’t use the same password for everything, and change your passwords regularly.  Don’t use things like family names, addresses or important dates as passwords. Use a recommended app to store and create complicated passwords (try Keeper, LastPass, or OnePassword).
  2. Watch your bank and credit card statements. Review your statements often to make sure all the charges are yours. Often hackers will test you by applying small charges before big ones, so assess the little amounts too. If you see something suspicious, call your bank immediately.
  3. Update your security settings. Ensure that your Google, Facebook and other major apps and website settings are secure. Also, be sure to allow your phone and computer to do regular updates of its software and apps, as these updates often prevent security threats.
  4. Never work in unsecure sites or shop online on an open wi-fi network or hotspot. Making that quick online purchase from your phone while at a coffee shop or other open network is one of the easiest ways hackers can get your data. Don’t make online purchases over an open wi-fi network, and be careful shopping online from your phone.
  5. Be suspicious and attentive, but not paranoid. We can no longer take everything we hear or read at face value. If something seems a little off or too good to be true, investigate. Question when you see something. Many hackers target senior citizens, so be extra attentive if you’re in that demographic.  Stay calm and follow up before making rash decisions.

As our name suggests, we’re here to help you steward your resources. Ensuring that they can’t be accessed by strangers is an important part of that. Follow these five tips, and don’t hesitate to ask us for guidance when it comes to securing your finances.

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