How to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Data Breach
Modern technology makes life easier, particularly when it comes to personal banking. However, like most innovations, it also carries some risk. The good news is that if you take the proper precautions, you can enjoy all that technology has to offer while safeguarding your personal information.
Here are a few ways to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a data breach.
Practice Good Password Hygiene
You can stop a hacker in their tracks by following good "password hygiene." Keep these tips in mind when creating or changing your password:
- Don't use the same password for multiple online services. Your account with an online retailer might not be as secure as other services, such as your bank.
- Avoid using dictionary words. The most common password is "password," according to Consumer Reports. The more creative your password, the less likely it is that someone will be able to guess it, so use a mix of random uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don't change your password unless it's weak or you think that it's been compromised. According to The Washington Post, research has found that people who frequently change their passwords tend to choose weak passwords or simply repeat the same password across accounts.
Secure Your Credentials With Authentication
While practicing good password hygiene is a great first step, using multifactor authentication (MFA) provides an added layer of security. With MFA, you need to prove your identity in multiple ways: by entering both your login information and, usually, via a code that's sent to your device. If you use MFA, a hacker can't log in with your account credentials alone; they'd also need access to your phone or your device of choice.
Protect your phone, too, by adding password protection or by requiring biometric authentication.
Be Smart About Emails
In addition to securing your credentials, you can help keep your personal and financial data safe by being cautious with emails. While cybercrime tactics have become increasingly sophisticated, the most common ones are easily blocked. Some of the most prevalent cyberattacks involve your email inbox.
One of the main ways hackers try to gain access to personal information is through ransomware, a type of malware that threatens to deny people access to their information or to publish it unless they provide a ransom. Ransomware mostly spreads through email phishing scams. To avoid them, use extra caution when checking your email — don't click on email attachments that are unexpected. For example, if your great aunt sends you a video attachment out of the blue, don't click on it without confirming that she sent it to you and that it's safe. Keep in mind that most companies won't ever ask you for your username and password via email. If you're asked for this information, delete the email.
It's entirely possible to enjoy the convenience and pleasure of today's technology while protecting your personal data; it's just a matter of committing to a few basic rules. Follow these online security tips to decrease your chances of becoming a victim of a data breach.