10 Tips to Secure Your Financial Data
1. Do not use the same password for everything
Weak passwords are responsible for 81% of data breaches. If you’re using the same password for multiple personal and financial accounts, you’re putting yourself at risk. Think about it: One hacked account can lead to the access of another, and so on.
In case of theft, having different passwords in place will limit the number of accounts that can be compromised. When creating codes, it’s best to use 10–20 letters and both lower- and upper-case letters and avoid common phrases (e.g., 123456). Renewing them every few months or so is another excellent practice that will keep your accounts safe.
2. Always check the link before entering any sensitive information
Hackers commonly use phishing sites to steal confidential information. In case a page you’re in tells you to click through a link, don’t take action just yet. Instead, hover your cursor right above the URL to know which website you will be redirected to.
Research shows that around 1.5 million phishing sites are created each month, illustrating how prevalent they are. Check if the website you’re visiting has a suspicious URL, and be on the lookout for any grammar or design errors.
Want to stay away from phishing sites? This guide discusses 14 phishing life examples and provides tips on how you can spot them.
3. Watch out for suspicious emails
Other than phishing sites, look out for suspicious emails, too. If you receive a message from an unknown sender, check if you’ve given your contact details at some point. If you have no affiliation with them whatsoever, then this email is probably a scam.
Phishing emails can be hard to spot since they can appear authentic. In case the suspicious message claims to be from your bank or credit institution, don’t hesitate to call them to ensure its validity.
Know that 94% of malware is acquired via email. Avoiding suspicious links included in the message will keep your device free from data-siphoning viruses.
4. Check if the site you’re visiting is encrypted
Whenever you’re browsing websites, always check if the page is encrypted. Given that fraudsters are just lurking around the corner, staying away from unsecured pages will allow you to keep your data safe.
Luckily, spotting a site’s security can be done quickly by taking a look at the left side of the address bar. If the URL doesn’t have a lock icon or doesn’t start with HTTPS://, don’t enter any sensitive information.
5. Use multi-factor authentication
Have you linked a recovery email or phone number to your important accounts?
If not, then you should do it as soon as possible. According to Google, multi-factor authentication can block 100% of automated bot hacks. If an unauthorized person tries to access your accounts, having SMS or email verifications will give you another layer of protection
6. Back up important data in the cloud
Backing up important files will save you a great deal of stress. In case of a breach, server crash, or hardware malfunction, having extra copies of important documents will help you recover data in no time. While uploading them to a separate device or external hard drive is a good option, creating backups in the cloud is better.
Cloud software is ideal for file storage since they provide both security and convenience. It helps you access important documents through any device while limiting access to unwanted eyes.
7. Use secure networks for sensitive transactions
Connecting to a coffee shop or a mall’s public Wi-Fi may be great for casual use, but don’t use it to make transactions that may require you to input sensitive information. It may be fast and free, but remember that networks such as these can be the hunting grounds for hackers.
If you need to make a sudden transaction while you’re out, using mobile data is a better option to avoid personal information from getting leaked.
8. Invest in a capable anti-virus program
Virus-related hacks are becoming more common. In 2018 alone, over 10.52 billion malware attacks have occurred, and trends suggest that this figure will increase.
If you want to avoid financial malware, purchasing a capable anti-virus program is your best bet, especially if you’re a Windows user. Software with automatic updating and real-time tracking capabilities will keep your computer free from the reach of hackers.
9. Always update software
Whether it’s for your operating system, web browser, or work program, always install software updates whenever they’re available. Apart from optimizing your application’s performance, these patches are also built to bolster your security.
Given that hackers are updating their malware, having up-to-date software will give you a stronger shield against it.
10. Don’t post private information on social media
Social media channels like Facebook are more saturated than ever. Be more mindful of the things you’re posting.
Aside from your password, publicly posting valuable information, such as phone number, email address, and full name, can give hackers an easier time stealing from you. Double-check your privacy settings and limiting the things you share.