I don’t mean to scare you with that opening, but I do want to get your attention. The Digital Revolution has brought many benefits. We can stay in touch with people like never before through Facetime and Skype; we have access to more data than we could consume in a lifetime through Google and Wikipedia; we can chronicle nearly every aspect of our lives on Facebook and Instagram (including fascinating things like what we ate for dinner). With these benefits come new burdens. There are thieves lurking in the digital shadows, eager to get access to your virtual identity in order to steal from you. What can you do to be safer online? Here are a few simple tips:
- Make your passwords complex. I know, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all fifty passwords you are probably using, but if you have a simple password, it is much more susceptible to hackers . Come up with a trick that will help you remember it. For instance, “To Kill Mockingbird” is your favorite book and your favorite football player wears the number 16 (for all you Payton Manning fans like my wife), so You could use “mockingbird16$.” Don’t use obvious numbers like your DOB or address.
- Get a good virus scanning/malware program on your computer. If you don’t know how to do this, take your computer to a reputable IT expert that can install it. Even trusted websites and emails can have malware embedded in them. Malware stalks your computer, running commands that are irritating at best, and devastating at worst. Malware can even watch your computer screen, or turn on your web cam to spy on you. So set a good “guard” at the door with a strong virus/malware scanning service.
- Be vigilant and use some common sense. Do you really think that someone in East Africa is going to contact you via email and promise one million dollars to you if you will only give them your bank account number? Don’t fall for things that sound too good to be true. Don’t EVER give your personal information away over email. Criminals are creative, so think before you act.
There are a host of other things you can do to protect your digital identity, but these are just a few big ones. At Foundation Bank, we want to be more than a parking place for your money. We want to give you trusted financial guidance. Whether you do business with us or not, we hope the above information is helpful. If you are doing business with us, we thank you for it. We’ll keep the advice coming.