Securing Yourself Online and at Home

We live in an online world, where security has completely changed and evolved. There was a time when our clients only had to worry about their home security, but now, you need to add in online security as well.

Imagine working hard to secure your retirement, finally executing all of the steps of retirement planning, and then someone upending all of it in minutes.

We recently had the chance to sit down with Andy Murphy, the owner of The Secure Dad, to discuss ways that we can keep ourselves and our families safer both online and offline.

We’ll be breaking this article into two sections, just like we did on the podcast, to discuss two main points:

  1. How to secure your main home, vacation home, etc.
  2. How to secure yourself online

Andy was nice enough to discuss security with us to help folks live a happier, safer life.

Andy’s Background and Starting The Secure Dad

When listening to an expert, Andy was asked, “What is one thing you can do every day, all day and not get tired?” For Andy, the answer was: family safety. The question led him to create The Secure Dad because it is something he’s obsessed with, and he wanted to share his expertise with the world.

Now, Andy helps people:

  • Take proactive steps to protect their investments
  • Take proactive steps to protect their families
  • Add security in life in a non-intimidating way

How to Secure Your Home(s)

Andy made clear that if you’re proactive about home security, you can keep bad things from happening. Being a little proactive can help you avoid:

  • Major expenses
  • Replacing stolen items
  • Filing a claim with insurance
  • Etc.

Proactive security helps you avoid emotional and financial stressors. Your home is your castle, and while you may have an emotional attachment to it, thieves look at your home as just another potential target.

Instead of relying on just home security, you want to make your home less attractive to thieves. You don’t want someone breaking into your home in the middle of the night while you’re asleep. So, what can you do?

Add lighting.

Thieves want to be concealed and protected. If you add lighting to the perimeter of the home, you can lower the risk of theft. If a thief believes that they’re going to be seen, they’ll go to another house.

Lighting is a major deterrent to thieves.

Ring cameras and security cameras work great, but they’re often not seen until someone walks up to your door or peers through your window. We’ve all seen commercials where someone already breaks into a home and then the alarm starts blaring.

You don’t want to wait until an intruder is in your home to scare them away. Ideally, you’ll scare them away before they even walk into your yard.

Andy recommends taking a multi-layered approach to your security, starting with:

  1. Discipline. Habits and routines, such as making sure your doors and windows are locked, are just the start. You’ll also want to keep your garage closed, lights on outside, etc. 
  2. Responsibility. Proactiveness will go a long way in securing a home. Take responsibility. Close the garage door with expensive gym equipment behind it, and work on making your home less of a target.

Contrary to popular belief, the most common time a theft occurs is during the day. Thieves do not want a confrontation, so they’ll target your home when they think you’re on vacation or at work.

If you just follow the discipline step above, you’ll greatly improve your home’s security.

How to Secure Your Online Data

There was a time when our clients were a bit reluctant to sign documents online or perform any transactions online. In recent years, most of our clients have become comfortable using online portals, but they really don’t know much about online security.

We’ve also been a target for scams, but through our systems in place, we’ve been able to stave them off from being a success.

One close call occurred when someone sent us an email from a client’s account and asked us to withdraw money. We then went through our internal systems. We always:

  • Double verify with the client
  • Ensure they haven’t been hacked
  • Etc.

Ultimately, the client didn’t send the email, and we recognized that they were hacked. 

However, not everyone has security measures to protect their online data. So, we asked Andy what he recommends our readers and listeners do to enhance their online security:

  • Be aware of phishing emails. These emails look legitimate, and they contain links. The person clicks the link and is somehow swindled into giving over their information.
  • Google is great, but if you type in a company name, be sure what you’re clicking on is the actual company that you’re wanting to use. Frequently, ads are disguised to look like Chase or Bank of America, but they lead you to non-official websites.
  • Online banking is often safer than traditional banking at this time. Now, people are engaging in mail fraud, stealing checks and then writing out fraudulent checks. You just need to be sure that the website you’re using is the bank’s official site and has real-time malware and virus scanning.
  • Enable two-factor authentication. While two-factor authentication may seem annoying, it adds an additional layer of security that makes it very difficult to hack into your accounts. Ideally, you’ll use a text message rather than an app for two-factor authentication because it’s safer. One issue that happened to Andy himself is he got a new phone and never transferred his two-factor authenticator to the new device. Unfortunately, he was digitally locked out of his accounts. So, learn from Andy: use a text notification.
  • Be cautious when using a password manager. While these platforms are well-known and used, there are rare cases when the master password is changed, or something happens and you can’t access anything.

Even someone like Andy has made the mistake of not copying their authenticator app to their new device and was locked out of his account. However, if you follow the tips and advice above, you’ll greatly strengthen your online security.

However, there’s one thing left to consider here: family security.

How to Begin Protecting Your Family’s Security

Family security is a very detailed process, but a few things you can do are:

  • Explain to your kids that online friends may not be who they think they are.
  • If an online friend wants to bring conversations to new platforms for no reason, this is often a red flag.
  • Freeze your child’s credit when they’re under 18. They can’t use it until that point, but hackers may try to use their information. Data breaches happen all the time, causing Social Security numbers to leak and may impact your kids.

One question Andy asked us is this: If someone in retirement has the finances not to take out credit, should they freeze their own credit?

And our answer was:

  • Why not? It’s an easy process that can save a lot of heartache. It couldn’t hurt to freeze credit.
  • You can always unfreeze your credit if you need to access it in the future.

Andy has a lot of educational resources, courses and books that you can use to dive into this subject matter far greater than we were able to in the podcast.

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