There are countless horror stories where people have had their identity stolen and their bank accounts wiped out. 80% of victims will continue to use the Internet despite the risks because that’s the world we live in today. I want to focus on giving you tips to protect your privacy and help you function every day securely for both personal and business.
Understanding the risks: If you are using a shared computer at home especially with kids, your risks are quite different than using a smartphone that only you use. You should keep your data in the Cloud and not stored on your local computer or device. When you are out in public, always avoid shared connections. Your cell phone service provider, like AT&T and Verizon for example, provides data services 5G and LTE which are encrypted. However, a FREE public Wi-Fi hotspot is a playground for criminals. Get a good data plan with your cell phone provider. In the office and in your home, a virtual private Wi-Fi network is secure if set up properly. I will explain how to set up your home network securely in a future article.
Only download banking apps and other apps that handle financial transactions from either Apple’s App Store or Google Play, and be sure to activate any multi-factor authentication options your bank offers, including for shopping platforms like Amazon. Multi-factor authentication is when you receive a code like a PIN when logging in. You can receive it in an email or text message before completing the login process. Another popular multi-factor authentication process involves sending a notification to a second device for approval. These are extra steps, but worth it! You should always have more than one email address for recovery, and as an alternate for important notifications and multi-factor authentication purposes. If you are using a mobile app from a small regional bank, they may lack the resources and expertise that large banks have when it comes to the security battle.
Biometric security like fingerprints and face ID can speed up the login process, but more importantly, prevents you from exposing or forgetting your password. Here are important password tips: Make your passwords long, like 12 characters. You should include numbers, symbols, and upper and lower case letters. Do not use personal information. Never reuse old passwords. Use different passwords on different accounts. A good way to remember your password is to think of a phrase or lyric in a song. For example, “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” could become “10oBb0t!W.” Another way to make this easier is to use a Password Manager like “Keeper,” “Dashline,” or “Zoho Vault.” It costs about $3 a month. Finally, change your passwords often. The rule is to change your passwords every 60-90 days. I change my passwords bout every 3 months.
Microsoft Windows is the most popular Operating System (OS) in the world and is also the most targeted. The Android smartphone platform is not only the most popular mobile OS globally, it also allows users more flexibility, which can open up security holes. You are more compromised using a computer than a smartphone or tablet because there are exponentially more threats targeting computers. Mobile apps collect much more information about the user, such as location, biometric, video, and audio data than web browsers. In this situation, a bank mobile app on an iPhone IOS can be more secure than the bank website using your PC laptop. The browser on your smartphone has more security risks than the browser on your computer so it is safer when using a smartphone to use an app than your browser. For your PC laptop, you can buy programs like “Bitdefender” that allow you to do safe browsing.
Making purchases using NFC tokenization technology like in Apply Pay is the most secure way to shop. All personal account numbers (PANs) are replaced with randomly generated IDs (“tokens”) that are then used to authorize one-time transactions. This makes it very difficult for criminals to ever steal or clone a user’s credit card information. A contactless credit card like Visa has the same security as the credit card chip. You would wave the credit card over the payment machine at the checkout counter like you would your iPhone or Apple Watch for example. These cards also have PIN numbers. It is safer to store credit cards virtually in the Apple Wallet and use your mobile device to pay.
My last tip is about online subscriptions. It is very easy to sign-up for subscriptions that bill you every month or even worse annually and you don’t even realize it. The biggest mistake people make is to sign up for a free 30-day trial, give the merchant their credit card information and then forget to cancel before the trial ends. This is why I am a huge believer in PayPal. I have both business and personal PayPal accounts. Whenever I sign up for a membership or service, I always use PayPal, which has my checking account and credit cards connected. I can see my list of subscriptions in one place and cancel them easily at any time.
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