Are you trying to secure your retirement? If so, a lot of clients we have are majorly concerned about cybersecurity. In an instant, a hacker can get into your bank account, transfer your savings over to their own accounts and leave you to pick up the pieces.
These individuals or groups may also hijack your email account and try mailing your financial advisor to make changes to your portfolio or give them access to your accounts. Additionally, someone can log into a retail account and rack up a ton of debt.
In our recent podcast, we had the opportunity to sit down with Nick Espinosa, CEO of Security Fanatics, a cybersecurity expert, to ask him a lot of questions to help protect our clients. Nick has worked with Fortune 100 companies and small businesses. He is a writer and even has Ted Talks where he teaches people about cybersecurity.
And he was more than willing to share some knowledge with our audience.
How to Keep Your Data Safe When Shopping Online
Shopping online is something a lot of people do. It’s a lot easier to go on Amazon and simply order a new pair of pants. However, in the middle of these transactions, you put a lot of trust in a third party that now has access to your credit or debit card information.
How can you stay safe when shopping online?
Nick claims it’s a “loaded question.” Everyone is online, and the pandemic accelerated online shopping and even working from home. The best way to protect yourself is awareness. Technology is constantly innovating, but the threats out there to steal your information or gain access to your accounts are also accelerating with its own technology.
A few questions to ask are:
- What happens if someone breaks into your phone?
- What happens if someone gains access to your computer?
- What information would be found on these devices?
For most people, a lot of information may be accessible in these situations, and maybe you even saved passwords to the device, opening up a treasure trove of data to a hacker.
Protecting against these threats requires some diligence.
Enable Encryption or Set It Up
If someone steals your PC or phone, encryption ensures that they cannot read any of the data on the device. Unfortunately, a pin code isn’t enough to stop someone from potentially accessing files on these electronic devices.
Late-model iPhones and Android devices have automatic encryption, but it doesn’t work well with pin codes.
It’s easy to clone a phone and continually try cracking the pin code.
Instead, you want to use:
- Long passwords
- Biometrics, such as thumbprint
If you use these advanced security settings, you’ll encrypt your phone using a method that is very difficult or impossible to break.
Storing Passwords in a Password Manager
Many people rely on password managers because we know that people shouldn’t reuse their passwords across sites. Password managers can help you manage site passwords by:
- Generating very secure passwords
- Remembering the passwords for each site
- Storing passwords using encryption
However, many password managers also synchronize across devices, so the passwords are available on your smartphone, PC, etc.
Hackers are working to break into these password managers because they’re a treasure trove of data. One thing to understand is that if you do use a password manager and there’s an update available for it, download the update immediately.
A security flaw may be the main reason for the update, and if you say, “Well, I’ll update that later,” you’re inviting hackers to steal your information.
Two-factor authentication is changing the way people secure their accounts. Using this authenticator adds an extra layer of protection to your account, making it exponentially safer.
Hackers are lazy, and they will go after low-hanging fruit to hack.
Enabling multi-factor authentication requires you to verify the person logging into your account is you. Even if a hacker knows your password, without having access to your phone or wherever the authentication is received, they can’t get into your account.
Threat Detection Systems
A threat detection system sounds so advanced, but it’s crucial to realize that you have a minicomputer in your pocket if you have a smartphone. Your mobile devices are powerful, and they need the same protection as your PC:
We’re downloading things all the time. However, it’s easy to infect someone on Facebook or Twitter because these platforms do not actively scan files we upload to friends. It’s as simple as a hacker sending a blurry image of you from your mom’s Facebook account, asking if it’s you and then infecting you when you open the image.
The image may even be a doctored image of you, so you would reply, “Yes, awesome picture, mom,” and not realize that your smartphone is now infected with a virus.
Protecting Against a Phishing Scam
Phishing can take on many forms. For example, a Nigerian Prince may email you stating they have millions of dollars they want to transfer to you. Of course, most people are aware of these types of scams and will not fall for them, although some people still lose their entire retirement in these schemes.
There is also something called “spearfishing,” and Nick sees this often in the corporate and individual world.
The main problem retirees face is that they didn’t grow up with the technology that we have today. Nick claims that the vast majority of phishing victims are over age 60 and are the main target of hackers.
Let’s use an example. A hacker starts looking through someone’s email and sees that this person is a 22-year-old male named Johnny. As it turns out, Johnny often sends emails to his grandmother, and she’s the perfect target for phishing.
The hacker may use Johnny’s email to:
- Send an email to grandma
- Craft a story about how he’s stranded in London, and someone stole his wallet
- Grandma sends the money
Grandparents will do anything for their grandchildren, and since grandma knows Johnny is in London, she doesn’t even realize that the mail may be from a hacker. Verifying that the person sending an email is real is as simple as picking up the phone and calling Johnny on his usual phone number.
If you call Johnny, you’re using two-factor authentication to verify that Johnny is really in trouble and can send him money.
Phishing can also happen on fake forms online. For example, someone may own Amazzon.com, and the site looks exactly like the real Amazon. However, when you type on your account information, it may redirect to Amazon, and you don’t realize anything was amiss.
The problem is that the hacker captured all of the form information and can now access your Amazon account and make purchases.
Sometimes, there’s an infection on a smartphone or PC. When you’re on your device and on Facebook, a pop-up may appear on the screen that says, “Call 1800 scamm-me.” You call, and the person steals your information.
Additionally, someone may text you from Bank of America saying there’s an issue with your account, so you click on the link and don’t realize it’s not a legitimate one. In this case, it’s crucial to call the bank yourself or log into your account by going to the official site yourself and verifying that there’s an issue with your account.
It’s far too easy to recreate a site, create this sense of an urgent problem with your account and fall into the grasp of a hacker who wants nothing more than to hack into your bank account. You need to do your due diligence to keep your information safe when logging into your bank account or receiving emails.
The key to keeping yourself safe online is to educate yourself and don’t make it easy for hackers to hack you. Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication, and always verify that the person mailing you for money is actually the person you want to help.
A healthy retirement is one that you actually get to enjoy. If you’ve worked hard, did everything right and then lost everything in an instant, it would be a horrible feeling. Focusing on your cybersecurity and just following the basics above will protect your retirement from hackers.
If you’re saving for retirement and want expert advice, schedule a call with us to see how we can help.