By Matt Gallagher
Cybercrime is an array of malicious activities that target computer systems, data systems, or private information with the intent to wreak havoc or profit from the hacker. Cybercrime is carried out by individual hackers or organizations with advanced and well-organized hacking operations. Types of crimes include email fraud and identity theft, theft of personal, corporate or commercial data, and ransomware attacks.
As so many aspects of our lives and businesses operate online, endless streams of information populate our digital paths. Various forms of online activity, such as posting vacation photos to our social media profiles or logging into accounts on public Wi-Fi, leave fingerprints that can be tracked. If not monitored and spotted by the right hacker or cybercriminal, these leads lead directly to some of our most important assets: our wealth, our investments, our personal information and data.
With the advent of any humanitarian crisis or natural disaster, opportunistic cybercriminals will take advantage of our fear and need for information to gain access to computers and personal information of individuals through phishing and other phishing schemes. identity theft.
These major threats require risk mitigation, management and/or transfer strategies as the crisis unfolds.
The best way to protect yourself against cybercrime is to be aware of vulnerabilities and take proactive steps to guard against them.
Email Fraud: Around 90% of all cybercrimes start with an email. Hackers can deploy a variety of techniques like impersonating someone you know to trick you into opening an email, clicking a link, or taking actions that leave your device unprotected. If you are a public figure or wealthy individual, your accounts may become even more targeted. Be sure to verify the sender’s address and be suspicious of anything that doesn’t look right. If it doesn’t look right, don’t open it. If in doubt, delete it.
Billing scams: Scammers will monitor personal news such as births, deaths or new homes and then send invoices for payment. For example, after finding a widow on the Internet, scammers will pose as a collection agency calling about the recently deceased person’s debt.
Charitable donation scams: Beware of requests for money immediately after a disaster. Scammers create fake websites with names similar to real charities and solicit donations.
The “Remember Password” functions should always be disabled on your computer.
Never automatically save your username and password.
Online financial transactions should only be conducted on secure websites. Websites that begin with “https” (as opposed to just “http”) have a layer of encryption called the Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Never enter your credit card information or other sensitive data on a site without the “s”.
Do not access financial or other accounts from mobile devices or over public Wi-Fi. Financial transactions should only be carried out over a virtual private network. A VPN is a type of encrypted tunnel that hides your IP address and makes it harder for your network connection to be breached. There are many VPN options available that can be installed on your device through a free download or subscription service.
Keep computer software up to date, including router and modem firmware.
Install anti-virus/malware software like Norton, McAffee, or Total AV on all devices (even your Apple computers and mobile devices).
Make sure home Wi-Fi networks are secure. Use WPA2 or WPA3 security and a unique password. Call your internet service provider if you are not sure what you have.
Activate security features on all devices and/or websites – PIN codes, fingerprint authentication, facial recognition or multi-factor authentication.
Use password management systems such as Last Pass or Keeper to protect your credentials. These secure websites will help you better manage your usernames and passwords. Passwords should be at least 12 characters long and contain a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
While the digital age has brought us many conveniences as we navigate through the increasing pace of life, it has also brought new threats to our personal security. It’s worth spending the time to educate ourselves and take those proactive steps to ensure we don’t fall victim to clever cyber thieves. Your data is your business.
Your assets are the result of what you have built and worked for. Protect them with the right measures. Financial planning and strategy plays an important role in securing your future, but security has also become a major component.
Matt Gallagher is a Partner and Head of Business Development at TrinityPoint Wealth. He can be reached at 203-693-8519 or [email protected]