We use computers to pay bills, shop online, chat and evenkeep in touch with friends on social media platforms. You might not realize it,but this makes us vulnerable.
Because we willingly broadcast over the Internet valuabledetails, such as our credit card information or bank account credentials –information usually needed by cyber criminals – we can never be too carefulwhen securing our financial transactions or personal information.
A 2016 report from the PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that cybercrimeis the “2nd most reported economic crime, affecting 32% of organizations.” Andthe same study reveals another cause for concern, apart from the economicimpact:
“The insidious nature of this threat is such that of the 56%who say they are not victims, many have likely been compromised without knowingit."
The data clearly shows that cybercrime affects individuals andglobal economic growth. Cyber-attacks on financial institutions or withfinancial consequences for users like you and me are putting financial assetsat risk. Consequently, financial data protection should be a strong concern foranyone.
So is there a way to for our online activities to remainprivate and safe from cybercriminals?
Definitely! Here are afew best practices that will keep your system protected:
1. Check the linkbefore you click it
Pay attention to the links you want to access. To make sureyou are not deceived; simply hover the mouse cursor over the link to see if youare directed to a legitimate location.
If you were supposed to reach your favorite news website,such as “www.cnn.com”, but the link indicates “hfieo88.net“, then you shouldresist the urge of clicking the link. Hyperlinking is a common practice inphishing attacks and it’s always best to double check embedded URLs.
Most of us use shortening services for their links, such asgoo.gl or tinyurl. But in some cases an unknown link may send you to amalicious site that can install malware on the system. So, how can you knowwhere you’ll arrive if you click it?
To make sure you are about to access the right onlinedestination, use a free tool such as Redirect Detective. This tool will allowyou to see the complete path of a redirected link.
Alternatively, you can also check the suspicious links usinga reliable URL checker, such as VirusTotal.
2. Check the filebefore you click it
We all know malware is everywhere. But how can we make sure afile (or an executable file) we just downloaded is what it’s pretending to be?Can we tell the difference between a safe file and a malicious one?
An important step for everyone is to use a browser whichintegrates a reputation-based technology. This technology uses a cloud scoringsystem to analyze each application downloaded and where it comes from. As aresult of the analysis, websites that distribute malicious software – not yetdetected by existing defense mechanisms – are more easily blocked. For moredetails, you can access the following article.
To make sure you are not running a malicious executable file(which may download a Trojan virus on your system), use VirusTotal, whichanalyzes suspicious files on multiple antivirus solutions.
3. Use secure websitesto run financial transactions
Financial operations and transactions should be given highscrutiny, as they hold the key for cyber criminals to cashing out your life’ssavings.
Here’s how to make sureyou visit a secure website:
1. Lookto the left of the web address and find the “Lock” icon. This indicates thatyou are visiting an encrypted and/or a verified website.
2. Makesure the web address starts with “https://”. The “s” comes from “secure socketlayer” and it indicates you are connected to a website where data, which issent and received, is encrypted.
4. Set strong passwordsfor your accounts
Your passwords should contain around 20 characters. Don’tforget to combine upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t usethe same password for all your accounts. Make a habit of changing your mainpasswords every 30 days. Even if you are hacked, having different passwords foreach account will help you limit a potential loss.
For more information on how to set strong passwords andmanage them safely, see our step by step guide on password security. Thisincludes details on how to use a strong and secure password manager likeLastPass or Sticky Password.
5. Use two-factor authentication
This is one of the best ways to ensure your online accountsor your email inbox are not accessed by anyone else but you.
This option means that, besides entering your credentials,you will be required to enter a one-time code sent to your phone. Use thismethod to protect confidential information from social media accounts, such asFacebook, Twitter or valuable data from email accounts.
Read More About 15Steps to Maximize your Financial Data Protection