Strengthen Your Online Security

Posted: October 16, 2023

Tips to Shield Your Finances and Personal Information

Scammers are always coming up with new ways to acquire your personal information, making cybersecurity more important than ever. As your credit union, we want to equip you with the information you need to prevent scams. Stay informed and use the resources below to help keep your finances or personal information safe and secure. Keep these tips top of mind when navigating through possible cybercrime.

  1. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
  2. Recognizing and Reporting Phishing Attempts
  3. Keeping Software Up to Date
  4. Leveraging a Password Manager for Enhanced Security

Tip 1: Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

From the phone in your pocket to the smart speaker in your living room, technology is becoming more intertwined with our lives each day. While technology keeps evolving at the speed of sound, cybercriminals are working just as hard to find ways to compromise technology and disrupt personal and business life. The first tip to empower you to protect your information and finances is an important security blockade, multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Did you know…

  • Cybercriminals have put up more than 15 billion passwords for sale on the dark web.
  • Stolen or weak passwords account for 81% of breaches.
  • Using MFA could have prevented 99.9% of account hacks.

What is MFA?

MFA requires anyone logging into an account online to go through a two-step process to prove their identity. This makes it twice as hard for hackers to gain access to your accounts.

How does MFA work?

First, you log into your account with a password. Second, you take an extra step to verify yourself, such as entering a code from a text or email or using a biometric like facial recognition.

What can be used for MFA?

  • An extra PIN (personal identification number)
  • An additional code emailed or texted to you
  • A biometric identifier like facial recognition or a fingerprint
  • The answer to an extra security question, such as, “What is your childhood best friend’s name?”
  • A secure token, which is a separate piece of hardware like a key fob

What types of accounts offer MFA?

While not every account has an option for MFA, it’s becoming increasingly common. It’s available for most accounts that hold either valuable financial or personal information like financial institutions, online stores and social media platforms. You should protect any place online that stores your personal information (especially financial details), or any account that may be vulnerable to compromise for potential misuse that could deceive or defraud others by implementing MFA. The bottom line is when you use MFA, a cybercriminal can’t get into your account with just your password alone.

Tip 2: Recognize and Report Phishing

What is phishing?

Phishing is when criminals use fake emails to lure you into clicking on them and handing over your personal information or installing malware on your device. They might make an email look like it’s coming from a reputable company or even your financial institution to try and trick you into entering sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers or your Social Security number.

What are signs of phishing?

Watch for these signs to avoid falling for a phishing attempt:

  • An offer that seems too good to be true
  • Urgent, alarming or threatening language
  • Misspellings and poor grammar
  • Generic greetings such as "Dear sir or madam"
  • Requests for personal information
  • Pressure to click on a link or attachment
  • Strange or abrupt business requests
  • Sender email address doesn’t match the company it’s supposedly coming from

What should you do when you recognize a phishing attempt?

If you suspect you’ve received a phishing email, do not click on any links (even the unsubscribe link) or reply to the email. Just delete it. To take it a step further, you can also block the sending address. You can also report phishing emails to your provider (such as Outlook or Gmail) or your IT department, if you get a phishing email at work.

When scammers go phishing, you don’t have to take the bait! Stay alert and watch out for phishing emails so you can better protect your private information.

Tip 3: Update Your Software

Update Often

Avoid hitting the “Remind Me Later” button when a new software update becomes available. Update your device right away. These updates fix general software problems and provide new security patches where criminals might get in. You can be sure scammers are always looking for new ways to get to your data through your software, so keeping it up to date is an easy way to stay a step ahead.

Get it from the Source

Only download software updates from the company that created it. Never use a hacked, pirated or unlicensed version of software (even if your friend gave it to you). These often contain malware and cause more problems than they solve.

Make it Automatic

Software from legitimate companies usually provides an option to update your software automatically. When there’s an update available, it gives a reminder so you can easily start the process. If you can’t automatically update it, remind yourself to check quarterly if an update is available.

Watch for Fakes

Have you ever visited a website or opened software and got a pop-up window urgently directing you to download something or fill out a form? Don’t fall for it. A browser will only warn you not to move forward or stay on a specific web address because it might not be secured, or it could contain malware.

Keeping your device up to date is a simple way to protect yourself and your information.

Tip 4: Use a Password Manager

If you’re like most people, you’re probably using the same few passwords for multiple accounts—and that’s not safe. If one of your passwords gets stolen because of a breach, it could be used to gain access to all your accounts and your sensitive information. But with so many online accounts— from social media to your billing accounts—how can anyone remember hundreds of passwords?

How can you safeguard your passwords?

The best way to manage unique passwords for the ever-increasing volume of online accounts we own is through a password manager application. A password manager is software created to manage all your online credentials like usernames and passwords. It stores them in a safe, encrypted database and also generates new passwords when needed. Because the password manager stores all your passwords, you don’t need to memorize hundreds of passwords or keep your passwords written on a sticky note in a drawer. Now, you’ll only need to remember one to unlock your password vault in the manager app.

Why should you use a password manager?

  • Saves you time
  • Works across all your devices and operating systems
  • Protects your identity
  • Notifies you of potential phishing websites

We created these tips to heighten your cybersecurity awareness and boost your confidence in safeguarding your information online. If you have any questions about keeping your financial information safe, please feel free to contact us! Chat with us online, send us a secure message through Digital Banking or call us at (262) 796-4500.