Unless you live off the grid, and I mean completely off the grid, you have connected somehow the world wide web. Off the grid means that you do not have any accounts in your name, no utility bills, no email, no smartphone, no… Your cybersecurity is ultimately your responsibility.
There are practical steps you can do promoting your cybersecurity. Easy steps that will help in protecting you and your information are well worth the effort. According to AARP, the ways of thwarting cyber thieves are:
Place a freeze on your credit
Thanks to Congress, it is now possible to freeze and unfreeze your line of credit for free. Each of the crediting agencies has their own methods. You will need to take some time to read up and follow their instructions. You can find more information at AARP website.
Monitor your accounts
In today’s society, it is a good idea to check your statements regularly; actually, all of your accounts. You can set up with some of your organizations to email and text you if they suspect fraudulent activity is occurring on an account. The recommendation is to check your records weekly.
The credit card account I have from my credit union will occasionally call me with an automated message. I have to provide vital information to prove that I am me before they give any details. The system reads typically off the last 5 transactions for which I can mark as a good transaction or as one that is not recognized. The downside to this, though, is if marked as a potentially fraudulent transaction, my credit card and account are frozen until a new card is issued and I correctly verify receipt. I make notes on the details. If I do not recognize something, I will immediately contact card services to talk with someone instead of responding to the system prompts. For me, I found with more information about the charge that I do recognize the transaction.
Use strong passwords
I am confident that you have heard over and over again the basics for passwords.
- Writing passwords down is never a good idea.
- Avoid using the same password for another account.
- Use a strong password. Each account will have specific standards. Usually, there will be a combination of letters and numbers. Some organizations will require symbols. The longer, the better for security.
- Avoid personal information and common words for your password.
Use a password manager
A password manager is a tool that is something I have used for years.The web app will generate secure passwords, save account information and related password, and uses the latest security methods on your account. The concept is that you only have to remember one secure password, which is the tool’s secret code that you create, and the application will work for you after you activate the app. I have personally used LastPass for years. I pay a nominal fee for the premium version to include LastPass on my phone and tablet.
What is the downside? Well…If you are out and about and you do not have access to your account, you will not have the secure password for use. You do not want to use your LastPass on a public computer or a system that you are the only user.
Your information on the dark web
I am sure that you have seen commercials of the “good guys” willing to scan the dark web for your personal information. If you listen carefully to the ads and read the fine print, the scan will only inform you if they found your information. But wait! There is a catch. Nearly all of the dark web and its data are secured behind firewalls, memberships, and passwords. To my knowledge, no one can gain access to the obtained information UNLESS that person or organization is hacking dark web accounts. Personally, I find that ironic: the good guys hacking the bad guys. I don’t see it. You can read more on the AARP website.
You have actions that you can make to help you and hinder possible security breaches of your accounts and information. Taking some time to accomplish prevention will go a long way to help you. You will have more control over your data, and you will be more informed. You can always contact your account holders for specifics. They should be more than happy to help you as your security is beneficial for them as well.
Be smart about your information. Be safe. Be practical.
Photos by Sarah Pflug and Nicole De Khors on Burst, and Taskin Ashiq on Unsplash.