It seems as if every day we read about another hack. Most recently there has been speculation that the New York Times was hacked by Russian intelligence. I recently received a text from a "friend". When I responded, the deal sounded too good to be true. It was. It turns out my friend had been hacked and the hacker was contacting all his friends. With our growing dependence on smart technologies and on-line transactions it has become even more important to protect our identity.
Financial institutions offer the convenience of on-line banking. Rarely do I go to a bank anymore. Instead I go on-line to monitor my balance, payments, and deposits. I pay my bills with on-line banking. The convenience also makes whoever uses on-line banking more susceptible to identity theft. Follow these steps to minimize this potential on both your computer and cell phone.
- Be sure your computer has anti-virus and firewall protection. Update the software frequently to protect against the latest threats. Not only will your identity be protected from spyware – a program aimed to steal your identity - but your computer or smart phone will be protected from a virus that could destroy it.
- Do not access your accounts from a shared network. These include airports, coffee shops, restaurants, hotel rooms, or any other public place. When on a shared network, you could be sharing all of your personal information with intruders.
- Never open a link in an email from a bank. Phishers may be posing as your bank to steal valuable information. Instead, go directly to the bank's website. Report the email if you suspect fraud.
- Some computers and smart phones use fingerprints or other sophisticated software to authenticate the user. If available, use it even if it is a little more inconvenient.
- Use a password that only you would guess. Include numbers and letters.
- Review your statements or account frequently and report any unauthorized transactions– even if it is very small. The hacker may be testing the credentials with the intent of returning in the future.
- Be careful about visiting sites that offer free music, games, or other items. Criminals may be using these to gain access to your account information.
- Log off immediately when finished.
Please share any other suggestions that may prove helpful to our readers.