Most people live life online. The Internet is a tool that is used for communication, entertainment, commerce, and education. Therefore, there is a high risk of information being compromised online and used against a person.
When people think of cybersecurity, they mistakenly believe it is a tool that completely mitigates security risk. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While there is no way to eliminate cybersecurity risk, there are steps that a person can take to minimize online financial exposure.
Use Caution with Social Media
Social media is a great tool that allows you to connect with friends and engage in commerce. It is easy to think that what you post on social media is harmless. However, smart cybercriminals could use much of what a person posts on social media to steal personal information.
For example, one of the more common viral post types is the post that asks you to answer 30 questions about yourself and then pass it on to your friends. Usually, there are questions about where you were born, your first pet’s name, your first crush, your favorite meal, etc. On their own, these questions might seem innocuous. However, many of these answers are the same words or phrases that people use for their passwords or as answers to online accounts’ security questions. Filling out these questionnaires is the equivalent of giving cybercriminals clues to hack your private accounts.
Use a VPN
Most organizations protect themselves and their employees using an integrated cyber risk management platform. While these platforms provide excellent levels of security, they usually overkill for what an individual needs. However, a VPN may be the right piece of technology to protect your financial information online.
A VPN is a virtual private network. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the network you are connecting to. Therefore, when you use free Wi-Fi in a hotel, airport, or coffee shop, hackers can steal your information. If a hacker can somehow read your information, sit will just be garbled to the hacker since it is being transmitted in an encrypted way; it will be of no use.
To minimize online financial exposure, it is good to use a VPN if you are logging into banks and other financial institutions while traveling or using unsecured Internet connections. A bonus for travelers is that a VPN allows them to circumnavigate GGeo-restrictions. Therefore, they can enjoy streaming content from their favorite streaming services as if they were at home.
Use Effective Passwords
Creating an effective password could seem like an overwhelming task, especially when you need to have a unique password for every site you visit. Therefore, many people will use the same password for multiple sites. The problem with this is that if your password is compromised on one site, it exposes all of your web information.
Some people will use different passwords for each site. However, their passwords are short or only vary by a few characters. Usually, these types of passwords relate to the person’s life. This makes it easy to guess.
On the other side of the coin, creating a so complicated password, you can’t remember means that you lock yourself out. You need to strike a balance. Avoid common passwords like “password.” Avoid passwords that are a combination of your name and birth year. Passwords linked to your family or other pieces of identifiable information are useless and easy to hack.
Stay away from short passwords that replace letters with similar numbers or that are just a short word with upper and lowercase letters.
It is recommended that you use phrases that mean something to you. Maybe you use a scriptural reference, a famous saying, or something from your favorite nursery rhyme. You can substitute letters for words in a way that is difficult for others to remember. For example, if your password phrase is, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” write it out 2BorNot2B_ThatIsThe?.
Cybersecurity concerns will not disappear soon. As more of your life is carried out online, you expose yourself to more risk. Therefore, it is imperative to take cybersecurity seriously and look for ways to minimize online financial exposure.