Staying Safe in the Cyber Era
Every day our lives become more integrated with technology. From simple apps handling social media to finance apps that file taxes straight from our phones, innovation allows us to complete tasks more efficiently and effectively. However, the convenience of efficiency can come at a cost. With every use of technology, we run the risk of others stealing our valuable information and using it for themselves. Because of this, we recommend that all our clients take extra steps toward protecting their information. A little extra time spent securing an account can save a lot of heartache in the future.
A Strong Password
Nothing beats a good old fashioned strong password to secure your online accounts. A unique, creative, random, long password can make it extremely difficult for even an expert hacker to get into an account. It is important to use a unique password for every website, so that a single compromised password will not compromise all your online accounts. Other important factors include a full combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords should be at least 8 characters in length, but longer is even better. Short passwords can often be cracked instantly, but if the password length is increased to 9 characters, it may take a hacker 5 days to crack the password.
Sometimes in can feel overwhelming to remember and write down all your passwords, making unique long passwords difficult to use. That is why we recommend an encrypted password manager like LastPass. Not only does it store and encrypt all your passwords, but it only requires you to remember one master password that can be as complex as you want. Two Factor Identification
Next to a strong password, the best way to protect any account is to have two-factor authentication (“2FA”) enabled. After you use your password to login, 2FA will verify your identity by sending a secure code via text message or app on your phone. The code changes each time you receive it, usually every 30 seconds. 2FA helps secure your accounts even if your password is compromised since the hackers will also need access to your phone at the same time.
A common way scammers attempt to steal your information is through sending emails pretending to be an organization you deal with daily, such as Amazon. They may even have “amazon” in the email name. But don’t be fooled. If the email seems out of place, make sure to check the full address. If it appears as something like “email@example.com,” it is likely a scam. A good rule is to avoid using the links sent to you in an email. Often the email link will lead you to a page that looks like the actual Amazon page, but when you try to log in, you get an error. In reality, the link sent you to a fake account and your attempted login may have revealed your login information to a hacker. A better approach is to go to Amazon.com by typing the address in your browser. This approach ensures that you are going to the actual Amazon website.