cyber security is a growing concern in all areas of life. Businesses and political entities were put on high alert when the SolarWinds hack took place in 2019. Individuals have also suffered countless data breaches in recent years, including big names like Yahoo and Target.
Even the rise of a supposedly safe cryptocurrency has created plenty of scams, like the Squid Game currency pump and dump from late 2021. Add to that the rise of things like identity theft and fraudulent claims for UI perks, and you could say the world has never felt so good. unstable or threatening.
The good news is that there are many ways people can fight the growing threat of digital theft – especially when it comes to their finances. Here are a variety of the best ways to protect your financial investments from theft, no matter where or how long you might have your money hidden away.
1. Do your homework with suppliers
Most of these recommendations concern the consolidation of existing financial investments. However, it’s worth taking a moment to point out that the first step to protecting your finances is choosing the right vendors to work with.
This is a nuanced activity that cannot be turned into a formula. As thieves change tactics, companies are constantly forced to adapt and adjust their business processes to stay secure. This means that when setting up financial investments, you want to look for companies that proactively take steps to keep their customers safe.
A simple example of this can be seen with the investment leaders at Nasdaq. While the financial firm knows how to manage its core security needs, at one point Nasdaq faced a difficult and complex identity management framework. This made it difficult to ensure that everyone could securely log in and access the correct areas of its internal software systems.
Rather than sit on the growing problem, the company trusted Okta to rationalize its traditional system. The IdP (identity provider) did this by using tools, such as its single sign-on (SSO) and adaptive multi-factor authentication (MFA), to restore both the security and usability of the company system.
When setting up a new financial investment account, always research this type of activity beforehand. How does the vendor you are considering take steps to ensure the security of their own system? As a general rule, always opt for safe systems to protect your financial investments.
2. Identify your risks
Before you start making specific changes to your accounts, you need to understand where your risks are coming from. This is naturally a very open request. There is no end to the number of fraudulent threats that exist and are emerging.
Nevertheless, it is worth taking the time to identify the risks particularly present in your current financial accounts. For example, Kiplinger points out six main risks at the moment, which include:
- Data Breaches;
- Account takeovers;
- Fraud without a card;
- Synthetic impersonation;
- Peer-to-peer payments;
- Government benefits and tax scams.
Each of these concerns threatens different areas of the financial sector. It’s wise to organize your financial accounts to see which of these risks should be on your radar.
Start by taking the time to understand what you have. Then make sure you know where each account is. Finally, use the rest of the steps in this resource to make sure every account is safe and secure.
3. Protect yourself against identity theft
Your identity is the main gateway to your financial investments. There are many ways for a criminal to try to raid a single account. But if they can impersonate you, they have a real chance of getting into multiple places.
With that in mind, one of the best steps you can take to indirectly protect your investments is to protect your identity. Consumer Affairs reports that there has been a 311% increase victims of identity theft between 2019 and 2020. The catalyst for this spectacular increase? The pandemic.
The site explains that working from home has taken many people away from the security of corporate professional networks. This exposes countless people to the threat of cybersecurity risks, including identity theft.
Many financial experts recommend purchasing identity theft protection as an easy way to protect against identity theft. This can usually be done for free, and although it takes some work, it’s worth it as an extra layer of protection for yourself as well as your finances.
4. Cover the basics
So far, we have discussed high-level activities to protect financial investments. However, at some point you also have to go down into the trenches and do some of the dirty work.
These basic security activities revolve around simple but crucial security measures that are as old as the Internet. For example, during a discussion saving financial informationFinra starts with the triple recommendation of protecting usernames, passwords and PINs.
There are many ways to do this. Strong PIN codes usually consist of at least eight digits and, sometimes, even symbols. Passwords should also be long and strong.
In addition to creating good passwords and PINs initially, there are many ways to keep them up to date over time. It is recommended to change passwords often. The use of multifactor identification is also sensible. Also, don’t use the same password on multiple accounts. Many experts suggest using a password manager to help you keep everything tidy while protecting your accounts.
5. Protect your network and devices
In addition to your digital passwords and PINs, you also want to protect your physical hardware. This includes your network (i.e. your router) and the devices you use to access the internet through that network.
There are many ways to protect your local network and your devices. For example, you can:
- Set up firewalls on your devices and on your network to protect against prying viruses and more cyber threats.
- Use a VPN (a virtual private network) to hide your activity and make it harder for criminals to track.
- Install robust security software to provide industry-leading cybersecurity protection.
- Enable automatic updates to keep all your software patched and protected.
Your personal network and devices can be a weak link in your financial protection plan. Be sure to take the time to turn them from a potential backdoor into a safe haven where you can take care of your finances in peace.
6. Avoid direct bank connections and public networks
Criminals love to use public connections to attack innocent victims. This is why the United States Securities and Exchange Commission fully recommends avoid using public computers to access financial accounts.
If you find you need to use a computer on a public network, the ministry recommends a few steps to help you do so safely. For example, they suggest never providing personal information to access anything on a public computer. They also suggest never stepping away from the computer while logged in, logging out when you’re done, and disabling password saving features.
Along with the SEC’s suggestions for public computers, it’s also wise to avoid connecting your bank account to anything you don’t have to. Rather than using a debit card, always use a credit card when possible.
When you visit websites, get into the habit of also checking to see if they are safe. Look for the “https” rather than just “http” at the start of the URL – the extra “s” stands for “secure”. Also look for a secure symbol, such as a padlock, before the URL.
7. Be smart and stay aware of financial activity
Finally, be sure to cultivate smart cybersecurity best practices throughout your life. A handful of obvious ones that come to mind include:
- Never respond to a request from someone you don’t know with personal information.
- Use credit freezes as a way to lock down your finances in times of concern.
- Check your credit reports often — upload your free report from each credit bureau at least annually.
- Enable notifications with all your finance-related apps and sites to make sure you’re aware of suspicious activity (or anything else that needs your attention) as soon as it happens.
These are just a few recommendations. The important thing is that you get used to maintaining a certain level of vigilance with regard to your financial investments.
This also closes our list with the first recommendations. Always start by monitoring your financial institutions and assessing potential risks. Once done, take steps, like those recommended above, to protect your investments.
Even when this is done, however, don’t be overconfident in your safety. The world of cybersecurity is constantly changing and new threats are constantly emerging. Maintain a sense of vigilance as you work proactively to regularly protect your financial investments from theft.
Once this has been put in place, you can rest easy knowing that you have done everything in your power to ensure the security of your financial future.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.