Tons of personal information is received and sent through your computer or smartphone on a daily basis. This might include your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, banking information, or passwords.

A criminal could take advantage of security flaws in your computer or phone to steal your identity, access your online banking account, or use your email account.

Using the Internet for online shopping, banking, emails, or connecting with others on social media is incredibly convenient. To be clear, there’s no reason to stop doing these things because of safety concerns, just make sure you have the proper safe guards in place to protect you and your financial accounts.

Focus on protecting your financial accounts and personal information:

  1. Use an effective antivirus. Many antivirus products are available for your computer, smartphone, and tablet. Investing in a trusted antivirus program can save you massive amounts of time and money by safeguarding your device(s) from a potential hacker. For your safety, install these security programs on your devices that access the internet and keep your software up to date.
  1. Use dedicated apps whenever possible. Think of all the personal information you share on your phone, including accessing your email, online banking, and social media. Dedicated apps help keep your personal information away from prying eyes. 
  • Use apps from your bank, favorite retailers, or social media websites for activities like online shopping, banking, or posting on social media. Often, these dedicated apps have a higher level of security built in than if you were to access your accounts via a mobile browser that may not be secure.
  1. Create safe passwords and avoid sharing them with anyone. Follow these tips for password security:
  • For passwords, the longer the better. Try coming up with a phrase you will remember instead of using a single word. Think of a memorable sentence and use the first letter of each word. Vary between upper and lower case letters and add in some numbers.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Change all your passwords once a month or at least once a quarter if you have any reason to believe there might be a security breach.
  • Many Internet users have the same passwords for everything or use close variations. It is best to use very different passwords for your email, social media, and online banking.
  • Writing down your passwords can be a good way to keep track of them. Protect your password list by keeping it in a locked drawer or another safe place.
  1. Update your computer and Smartphone regularly. This includes downloading the updates for your operating system, antivirus software, and browser. Failing to install these updates could lead to security flaws in your system that hackers can take advantage of.
  1. Ensure your internet connection is secure. Make your Wi-Fi safer with these tips:
  • Create a password for your router, change the SSID of your network, enable network encryption, and consider reducing the range of your network so potential hackers in your area cannot easily connect to it.
  • Avoid using a public Wi-Fi network to shop or log into personal accounts that have sensitive information. Wait until you get home for online banking or shopping.

It’s also important to be aware that allowing someone else to access your devices could be a safety issue, since most of your passwords are probably saved on these devices. Create a strong password for your computer and phone and avoid selling your used devices, even after wiping the hard drive, since information can still be retrieved by those who know how.

Advances in technology continue to make everyday tasks easier. Unfortunately, along with these advances security breaches and identity theft are growing issues. The good news is that you have the ability to be proactive and protect yourself ahead of time. While enjoying technology, keep these tips in mind to help you keep your financial accounts and identity safe and secure.

This information is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice. The information in the articles should not be relied on for tax reporting, accounting, or valuation purposes. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

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