7 ways to protect your financial assets from theft
Cyber security is a growing problem in all walks of life. Businesses and political bodies were put on high alert when the SolarWinds hack took place in 2019. Individuals too have suffered countless data breaches in recent years, including big names like Yahoo and Target.
Even the rise of supposedly safe cryptocurrencies has led to numerous scams like the Squid Game Currency Pump and Dump starting in late 2021. Add in the rise of things like identity theft and fraudulent UI benefit claims, and you could say the world has never looked like this felt unsettled or threatened.
The good news is that there are many ways people can defend themselves against the increasing threat of digital theft — especially when it comes to their finances. Here are a variety of the best ways you can protect your financial assets from theft, no matter where or how long you’ve hidden your money.
1. Do your homework with vendors
Most of these recommendations have to do with cleaning up existing financial assets. However, it’s worth pointing out that the first step in protecting your finances is choosing the right providers to work with.
This is a nuanced activity that cannot be converted into a formula. As thieves change their tactics, organizations are constantly forced to adapt and adapt their business processes to stay secure. This means that when building financial investments, you should look for companies that take proactive steps to ensure the safety of their customers.
A simple example of this can be seen in the Investment Leaders on the Nasdaq. While the financial company knows how to manage its primary security needs, the Nasdaq once struggled with a challenging and complex identity management framework. This made it difficult to ensure that everyone could securely log in and access the right areas of their internal software systems.
Rather than sit on the growing problem, the company trusted Okta to streamline its traditional system. The IdP (identity provider) did this using tools like Single Sign-On (SSO) and Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to restore both security and usability to the corporate system.
When setting up a new investment account, always look for such an activity beforehand. How does the provider you are considering take steps to keep their own system secure? Always opt for secure systems to protect your investments.
2. Identify your risks
Before making specific changes to your accounts, you need to understand where your risks are coming from. This is understandably a very open request. There is no end to the number of rogue threats that exist and are emerging.
Still, it’s worth taking the time to identify the risks that are particularly present in your current financial accounting. For example, Kiplinger is currently highlighting six key risks, including:
- data breaches;
- account takeovers;
- card-not-present fraud;
- synthetic identity theft;
- peer-to-peer payments;
- Government Perks and Tax Fraud.
Each of these concerns threatens different areas of the financial sector. It’s wise to organize your financial accounts to see which of these risks should be on your radar.
Start by taking the time to understand what you have. Then make sure you know where each account is located. Finally, use the remaining steps in this resource to ensure each account is safe and secure.
3. Identity Theft Protection
Your identity is the primary gateway to your financial investments. There are many ways a criminal can attempt to hijack a single account. But if they can impersonate you, they have a real shot at getting to multiple locations.
With this in mind, one of the best steps you can take to indirectly protect your investments is to protect your identity. Consumer Affairs reports that the number of identity theft victims increased by 311% between 2019 and 2020. The trigger for the dramatic increase? The Pandemic.
The site explains that working from home has removed many individuals from the security of professional corporate networks. This exposes countless people to the threat of cybersecurity risks – including identity theft.
Many financial experts recommend signing up for Identity Theft Protection to protect yourself from identity theft. This can usually be done free of charge and involves some effort, but it is worth it as an additional protection for yourself and your finances.
4. Cover the basics
So far, we have discussed high-level activities to protect financial investments. However, at a certain point you also have to get into the trenches and do some dirty work.
These basic security activities revolve around simple but critical security measures that are as old as the Internet. For example, when it comes to protecting financial information, Finra starts with the triple recommendation of protecting usernames, passwords, and PINs.
There are many ways to do this. Strong PINs usually consist of at least eight numbers and sometimes even symbols. Passwords should also be long and strong.
Aside from creating good passwords and PINs initially, there are many ways to keep them current over time. It is recommended to change passwords frequently. The use of multi-factor identification also makes sense. Also, do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Many experts suggest using a password manager to keep everything in order while protecting your accounts.
5. Protect your network and devices
In addition to your digital passwords and PINs, you also want to protect your physical hardware. This includes your network (i.e. your router) and the devices you use to access the internet through that network.
There are many ways you can protect your local network and devices. For example, you can:
- Set up firewalls on both your devices and your network to protect against annoying viruses and other cyber threats.
- Use a VPN (virtual private network) to disguise your activities and make it harder for criminals to track you.
- Install robust security software to provide cutting-edge cybersecurity protection.
- Enable automatic updates to keep all your software patched and protected.
Your personal network and devices can be a weak link in your financial protection plan. Take the time to transform them from a potential backdoor into a safe haven where you can take care of your finances with peace of mind.
6. Avoid direct bank accounts and public networks
Criminals like to use public connections to target innocent victims. For this reason, the US Securities and Exchange Commission recommends avoiding the use of public computers to access financial accounts altogether.
If you find you need to use a computer on a public network, the department recommends a few steps to help you do so safely. For example, they suggest never entering personal information to gain access to anything on a public computer. They also suggest never leaving your computer while logged in, logging out when you’re done, and disabling password saving features.
Alongside the SEC’s public computer proposals, it’s also wise not to connect your bank account to anything you don’t have to. Whenever possible, use a credit card instead of using a debit card.
Make a habit of checking that websites are safe when you visit them. Look for “https” and not just “http” at the beginning of the URL – the extra “s” means “secure”. Also look for a secure symbol like a lock in front of the URL.
7. Be smart and watch out for financial activities
Finally, make sure you maintain smart cybersecurity best practices throughout your life. A handful of obvious ones that come to mind are:
- Never respond to a request from someone you don’t know with personal information.
- Use credit freezes to protect your finances during worrying times.
- Check your credit reports frequently – download your free report from every credit bureau at least every year.
- Turn on notifications for all your finance-related apps and websites to make sure you’re instantly notified of suspicious activity (or anything that needs your attention).
These are just a few recommendations. It is important that you get used to being aware of your investments.
This concludes our list with the first recommendations. Always start by reviewing your financial institutions and assessing potential risks. Once that is done, take steps like the ones recommended above to protect your investments.
However, even with that done, don’t rely too much on your security. The world of cybersecurity is ever-changing and new threats are emerging all the time. Maintain awareness as you proactively work to regularly protect your financial assets from theft.
Once this is in place, you can have peace of mind that you have done everything in your power to secure your financial future.
By Peter Daisyme for Due.com.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.