Making Cents: Why we all need to be concerned with internet security
By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP®
Your personal and private information is online - whether you use the internet or not. In either case, there are some basic rules that we all should follow to protect the privacy of everyone that we connect with online. Some seem so obvious, yet they are still the leading causes of breaches and other internet security issues.
Even if you’re not online ever, you are not completely safe. Most of your financial information and accounts are online, whether you’ve accessed them or not. If you choose not to use them, make sure that you shred all information mailed from your institution about how to access your accounts online.
First is to have different user names and passwords for each site. This is something that everyone typically says that they are aware of, but few actually practice this safety measure. It appears as if professional hacking groups have already hacked enough data and private information to have a lifelong shopping spree or fund their devious acts. It is speculated that hackers have hacked data from many different sites, and devote much of their attention looking for similarities or patterns in many of your personal accounts. These patterns are typically with repetitive passwords or user ID’s.
Knowing that it is possible for the personal and private details of your accounts to be out in cyber land, the best thing that you can do is to frequently change both your user name and passwords to many of your accounts. Make them uniquely different in all cases and do remember to change the passwords regularly. The challenge is to remember them all.
The worst place to store them is on a little cheat sheet tucked under your keyboard or on a list stuffed in a desk drawer. Even the dumbest of home criminals know to look for these. You need to come up with a secure technology or other safe method to remember them all.
Even your personal social media accounts can be used to corroborate information about you. It is recommended that even on personal sites that you not list all of your accurate personal details. While it may be fun to have all of your friends send you birthday wishes through your favorite social media site, this is just another method for cyber criminals to learn about your date of birth, your hometown, and maybe even your mother’s maiden name!
There is no magic bullet or app that we can buy that will prevent identity theft and people hacking into your accounts so we must be vigilant about keeping our information fresh and unique. Other measures to consider would be to investigate identity protection services and ask the credit agencies to put a freeze on your credit sharing information so that the agencies will need your permission to release any financial information about you.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of U. S. Wealth Management in Braintree, MA. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.