Cybercrime and fraud are serious threats.
The pandemic has changed our world in many ways and cybercrime and fraud have changed with it. Both the prevalence and sophistication of cybercrime have grown significantly in the past year. The “new normal” uses more digital communication. It offers convenience to users; however, more digital communication also offers fraudsters more potential opportunities to exploit private data. You are your own first line of defense and you can have an impact on safeguarding your personal information and assets by applying caution when accessing or sharing information and transacting online. Here are a few tips to stay vigilant and protect yourself and your data:
Practice caution when sharing your personal information. Unexpected equals suspicious. Be suspicious of unexpected or unsolicited phone calls, e-mails, and text messages asking for your personal information. If you receive a suspicious call, e-mail, or text, ignore it. It is especially important to be careful sharing confidential information via e-mail. Do not disclose personal or sensitive information such as your birth date or contact information on social media sites. If you need to send Chesley, Taft & Associates confidential information, let us know and we will send you a secure link to upload the information.
Keep your computers, laptops, tablets, and phones up to date. Check regularly for software updates. This includes your web browsers, operating systems, anti-virus software and anti-spyware software. Software operating system updates often include critical security patches.
Upgrade your password to a passphrase. Length equals strength. Passphrases are longer and easier to remember than randomly generated passwords. A passphrase is a phrase, typed with or without spaces, using a combination of characters, numbers, and symbols. Passphrases are often easier to remember than passwords and harder for fraudsters to uncover. Create a passphrase at least four words in length and include numbers and symbols.
Use password technology to help protect your data. Password Managers and Two-Step Verification can help. You should not share your passwords with anyone nor should you write them down. Instead, use a password manager to maintain longer and more complex passwords and passphrases. Keeper, Last Pass and Dashlane are some possibilities. To add an extra layer of protection, enable two-step verification whenever possible. Many banking, e-commerce and email websites offer two-step verification as an added security feature for your benefit.
Beware of phishing. Think before you click. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails or text messages appearing to be from trusted source to get you to reveal personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing attempts are usually urgent-sounding, legitimate looking emails or texts designed to trick you into disclosing personal information or installing a virus on your device. These scams can be sent as attachments or links that, when opened or clicked, trigger malicious activity or take you to fake sites. To protect yourself from phishing do not click on links or attachments in messages if you do not know the sender. If you receive a questionable e-mail from a someone you know call them separately to verify validity of the message.
These are just a few tips and we hope you find them helpful. Cynicism, skepticism and paranoia are not traits that we generally find to be attractive. In the realm of cybersecurity, a bit of them may prove functional.