Sep 20, 2017 / Security
In today’s digital world, data security is becoming increasingly important. From bank transactions and credit applications to online shopping and even your taxes, you transmit your personal information over the internet on a regular basis, and you trust that it will be kept safe from would-be hackers intent on criminal activity. Yet, with news of another high-profile security breech, this time at the expense nearly half the U.S. population, there are several things you can do to protect your personal information from being misused. Here are 3 critical things you need to know about data security.
Data breaches can be scary, but the truth of the matter is that most institutions take every measure to keep your personal information protected. Even if you can’t prevent the occasional high-profile data breach, there are things you can do on your own to keep your data secure.
For starters, always ensure your home and work computers have up-to-date anti-malware, anti-virus, and anti-spyware protection. And, while you’re at it, be sure to use a firewall to block any dangerous programs from infiltrating your network. When scanning your email accounts, never open emails or attachments that look suspicious. These could be phishing scams intent on accessing your personal information. If you don’t know the sender, the message contains poor grammar or spelling, has a misleading domain name, or provides an offer that seems too good to be true, send it to the trash folder.
And finally, some good advice in a day and age when over sharing on social media is the norm: don’t over share online. That means your date of birth, your address, phone number, and especially your Social Security number should be kept to yourself.
Before sending personal information over your phone or laptop, make sure that it’s protected. That means if you’re using a public wireless network, for example at a coffee shop, library, airport, or some other free wi-fi spot, take steps to ensure your data is encrypted. Remember though, encrypted websites protect only information sent from that particular site. Otherwise, your information could be up for grabs. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so use a secure wireless network, whenever possible. And, for passwords, keep them simple, long, and memorable.
When it comes to online banking, just because mobile apps and password completion can be convenient, you should never use automatic login information when accessing financial accounts. If you lose your phone or laptop, you don’t want to give your banking information to the wrong person.
If you believe your information has been compromised through the recent Equifax breach, or otherwise, it’s important to take steps to protect against fraud. Because Equifax is one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, if you have a credit report, chances are you’ve been affected by the recent security breach. This means hackers may have access to your name, Social Security number, birth date, address, and possibly even your driver’s license number. Hackers also stole credit card numbers of more than 200,000 people.
According to the FTC, U.S. consumers can get a free year of credit monitoring by visiting the Equifax website. This site will allow you to check whether your information was exposed, and give you additional details about when and how you can enroll in free credit monitoring. You can also check your credit reports (from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for free with Annual Credit Report.com. Keep a lookout for suspicious accounts or activity, which could indicate that your identity has been stolen. And, of course, monitor your existing bank accounts and credit cards closely, and report any suspicious activity or unauthorized purchases to your bank or credit union. You can even set up fraud alerts to have an extra set of eyes on your accounts.
Even if you can’t prevent every high-profile data breach, you can take steps to keep your data safe. Remember, knowledge is power, and the more you know about protecting your personal information, the more power you have over hackers and cyber criminals.
At Utah First, we take every precaution to ensure your information is safe and secure. We work tirelessly to test our data security and update our software. We have recently undergone upgrades to further protect each of our members. If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of your personal information, please reach out to us. Your peace of mind is our priority.