Phishing schemes, foreign hackers, spam emails – we hear about these threats on a regular basis, and it is important that we learn how to protect ourselves with our email and online or with social media. Harbor Wealth Management recently hosted a small group meeting for our clients on Cybersecurity with Kyle Moore from Live Consulting presenting an overview of the current threats and how best to protect ourselves.
One of the most common threats is ‘phishing’, where you receive an email that looks to be from a reputable company or known person in an attempt to get you to provide personal or financial information to someone trying to steal your identity, your banking credentials, etc. We’ve all heard of the scams with emails from someone claiming to have $1M to share if you only can provide them your bank account information, and most of us know to delete anything we receive that looks too good to be true. However, newer attempts may include an email that looks like it is coming from your bank or your accountant or Microsoft asking you to click on a link to access a form or provide additional information – these scams are harder to spot.
Kyle from Live recommended that everyone consider the R-E-P-E-L method when looking at an email that could be malicious: (You can find Live’s advice here)
R – Did you Request this email?
E – Did you carefully check the Email address to make sure it is spelled correctly?
P – Does it request Personal information?
E – Are there spelling Errors in the email?
L – Can you confirm where the Link is really sending you?
Another area where we could all be more cautious is passwords – do you use your dog’s name as part of your password? Is your dog’s name all over your social media? If so, a hacker could fairly quickly figure out your password and gain access to your email, your bank accounts, etc. Passwords that are based on people, pets, or places that we post about on Facebook or on other social media can be quite easy to hack. Longer passwords are much more difficult to crack, as well as passwords that combine uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols. There are several Password Manager programs on the market that you can use to generate hard to crack passwords and encrypt them allowing access only through entry of a master password, fingerprint, or other security token.
Given that so much of our personal and financial life is accessible online, it is wise to understand some of the fundamentals of cybersecurity and how to keep your information secure and out of the hands of cyber criminals!