Consumers must arm themselves against potential cybersecurity and information security threats.
As shopping, money management, and business transactions have increased online, there have been a significant number of retailers, financial institutions, government agencies and consumers targeted by cybercriminals. The holidays are a particularly dangerous season for consumers due to the spike in online activity, causing an increased risk of being hacked.
As online shopping becomes the standard, consumers must prepare for possible cyberattacks and secure their digital assets, especially prior to the holidays. If you don’t know where to start, now is a great time to call your bank, lender or money manager and ask them about their cybersecurity protocols and how to protect your personal identification information this holiday season. The risk of fraud and data breaches is higher than ever, but by understanding the proper precautions, customers can increase the security of their personal data.
Using strong passwords with a combination of capital letters, numbers and symbols is always a great place to start. Passwords should be reset once a year and never shared or written down. It is also important that computer and phone software is up to date and that automatic security updates are enabled on your browser. Also, do your homework on reputable e-commerce sites and beware of scam sites or “deals” that are too good to be true.
Unfortunately, many financial institutions and settlement service providers are often the focus of fraudulent schemes that cause attacks on the customer. The majority of cyberattacks occur because the consumer shared personal information in an unsafe space – typically an email or a pop-up advertisement. Share information with only trusted, verified sites and never leave your devices open and unattended.
Finally, if you receive something unfamiliar or unrecognizable in an email or pop-up advertisement, do not click on any links or interact with the sender. It is critical that you do not ignore suspicious activities on financial accounts – immediately contact your financial institution. By taking these easy steps, you will have greater success in staying a step ahead of cybercriminals.
Peter Moenickheim is chief risk officer for Gateway First Bank.