With smart phones, social media, and online bill paying options, our information is all over the web! Each new story of a security breach brings additional concerns over cybersecurity, but how can you protect information that has already been compromised? Unfortunately, if you were affected by one of the previous hacks (at Facebook, Yahoo, Target, etc.), there’s really nothing you can do to get that data back. However, you can change your security steps and protect yourself from future vulnerabilities.
Passwords, passwords, passwords
Now, we know it’s a pain to have (and keep track of) 20 different passwords for 20 different sites, but using unique ones is very important. It can make the difference between a hacker getting into your Facebook and obtaining your birth date or phone number versus them gaining access to all of your information online—because you used the same password for your Facebook, your car loan, your bank account, etc.
As a general rule of thumb, try to create the most complex password(s) to protect sites that contain the most sensitive information. While writing down all of your passwords is never recommended, you can write down helpful clues. For example, “I broke my hand at 12” can be transformed into the strong password, !bMh@12. It’s got a good mixture of capitalized letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters; also, it relates to a memorable event in your life.
If you’re still struggling, try a password manager like 1Password or LastPass, which stores all of your information securely. They create an additional layer of security while remembering your login information, so you can spend less time stressing and more time easily accessing the sites you need to use. They even offer stronger versions for businesses, so you can choose whatever security level and/or price you’re most comfortable with.
Keep your authentication information up-to-date
More often, websites are adding extra steps to the sign-in process as a way to protect you. They may only kick in if you’re logging in from a different device, but opting to receive text or email notifications when this happens can instantly alert you to hacking attempts. Furthermore, if you get locked out because you forgot or confused your password, having these extra steps can help you reset or recover your login information—more securely than basic security questions. After all, did you know that hackers are nearly 20% successful at guessing the answer(s) to your security questions, on the first try? So, next time you’re prompted to update your information, take a second or two to go through the motions. It could make a big difference!
Avoid the scams
Hackers are ever-evolving, so it’s up to you to be wary of their latest attempts to steal your information. Some basic precautions include not using your social security number as a part of your username or password, provide payment information through a third party like PayPal, and staying away from suspicious emails. Don’t open links from unknown email addresses, or enter login information anywhere besides the site itself. Additionally, keep the adage in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, the time a Nigerian prince emails you to tell you about a recent inheritance, don’t respond with your bank account information—just trash it.
Cybersecurity is such a growing problem these days that companies are starting to carrying liability insurance just for this purpose. As an individual, you don’t necessarily need to take such measures, but you should be proactive about protecting your online information. At Freedom Insurance Agency, we take every precaution to secure any information you provide to us, and we’re happy to help defend our clients!