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Keep Your Passwords Protected And Don’t Let Scammers Phish Your Information
Knowledge is power, which is why securing your information, especially your digital information, is so critical. We store so much sensitive information, such as financial and banking data, digitally. If this information is accessed by hackers, the fallout can take months or even years to recover from. May 7 is World Password Day, so now is the perfect time to discuss passwords, emails, and other tips. Let’s dive right in! First, make a note on your calendar to update your passwords every 90 days. While many online entities will make this request automatically, it’s never a bad idea to institute this habit for yourself. Changing your passwords so frequently can be challenging, and that’s not even considering how creative you need to be to do this. To help with this, I use the password generator tool from LastPass.com, which creates 50-character passwords that contain a variety of upper and lower case letters and symbols. It’s also important to use a different password for every online account. It may seem tedious and stressful at first, but it’s well worth doing to ensure you’re protected. If you struggle to keep track of all these, let an online tool like LastPass do it for you, or start an Excel sheet to keep track of them. Just be sure to password-protect the document as well! Whenever possible, I use a two-step verification process for my accounts. I use an Excel sheet, as just mentioned, which I’ve additionally secured with a two-step verification process on my computer. Many banks and other companies provide the option for two-step verification. The second step may require you to input a code sent to your phone (via call or text message) or to answer a personal question — the name of the street you grew up on or your pet’s name, for example — onscreen. Beware, though. While any two-step verification process is better than a one-step process, it’s still not perfect because the answers to these personal questions can often easily be found on your social media accounts. To prevent this, I recommend keeping your social media accounts private. As I previously said in our newsletter article “Don’t Post Your Testimony,” you never know who is visiting your accounts. Older people are even more at risk of security hacks because they commonly use family names, pet names, or important dates like weddings and birthdays in their passwords. If your older loved ones do this, you should be concerned because of how easy and fast it is for a hacker to find this kind of information and use it to
gain access to your loved one’s accounts. I personally have all my social media pages set to private, except for my business profiles, in which I take caution with what I share and how I present information. Not all scammers hack your online accounts. Email phishing attempts are also common. These scams use a familiar sender name to trick you into opening the email and following the email’s instructions. If anything seems suspicious about an email you receive from a known sender, first hover your mouse over the contact name and look at the email address carefully. Also, check the header and any other information on the email. Note any discrepanies that might be putting you at risk. Also, be sure to use the security system provided by your email administrator. My Microsoft outlook account screens most phishing emails and puts them into my spam folder. Google’s Gmail system allows you to report suspicious emails you believe to be phishing. In general, it’s good to be wary of any email asking for personal information and to follow up via phone or in-person with anyone who’s sent an email that seems suspicious. Do you have any clever ways to keep track of your passwords or information? Or any tips for spotting phishing emails? Let me know next time you’re in the office! I’m always looking for clever ways to keep my information safe.
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