Each year, the world becomes a little more connected through technology. The Internet touches more areas of our lives on a daily basis than we probably even realize. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security has named October Cyber Security Awareness Month and reminds us all to take some time to make sure our digital lives are as secure as they can and should be. Plus, with online holiday shopping around the corner, you’ll want your credit cards and bank accounts to be as protected as possible.
If you’re not convinced you need to revisit how you interact with the web, here are some sobering statistics:
- More than 169 million personal records were exposed in 2015, stemming from 781 publicized breaches across the financial, business, education, government and healthcare sectors (ITRC Data Breach Reports – 2015 Year-End Totals // ITRC)
- In 2015, there were 38 percent more security incidents detected than in 2014 (The Global State of Information Security Survey 2016 // PWC)
- The number of identity theft incidents has reached 9 million a year (FTC.gov)
- Every minute about 19 people fall victim to identity theft (FTC.gov)
- It takes the average victim an estimated $500 and 30 hours to resolve each identity theft crime. (FTC.gov) That’s not counting the dollars lost to fraudulent use!
Thirty hours of time fighting ID theft can potentially be prevented with a few minutes of protective measures on a regular basis. Here’s how to get started:
- While it will certainly make your passwords harder to remember (but also harder to hack), using a password generator for your accounts may enhance the security of these. The strongest passwords have random letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Use 2-step verification whenever possible. Two-step, or two-factor authentication, requires you to provide an additional piece of information after you give your password to get into your account. The most common second step is receiving a text message with a unique string of numbers that you enter to get access to your account. Generally, you only have to use the second step on a new device, if you’ve forgotten your password or if you’ve cleared your cookies. But the idea here is that someone would have to have access to your password AND your phone to get access to your accounts, which is much less likely. Speaking of your phone, password protecting it adds another great layer of security to your personal information.
- Use different passwords. It’s a best practice to have different passwords for each of your online accounts, but it’s especially important to use a different password for sensitive and financial information than you would for accounts of everyday use, like email.
- Remember to log out of accounts. This is so important when you’re using public computers (better yet, if you’re on a public computer, browse in incognito mode). But also think about how easy it would be for someone to access your personal information if you’re logged in on your phone—and then you lose your phone.
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The information mentioned in this article is for informational purposes only, is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Each person’s situation is unique and may materially differ from the information provided herein. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant and/or legal counsel to address your specific needs before any financial or other commitments regarding the issues related to your situation are made. Banco Popular North America does not make any representations or warranties as to the content contained herein and disclaims any and all liability resulting from any use of or reliance on such content.
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