Electronic innovations have expanded our use of technology, making financial transactions and communications convenient, yet they also have related security risks that we must be aware of and manage. Cybercrime presents a clear and present risk to private information and online communication. According to the U.S. government, cybercrime is more profitable than the illegal drug trade. In 2014, the cost to the global economy from cybercrime was almost $445 billion.1

To lower risks of cybertheft we must guard both our personal and private information more closely than ever before. Below are a few tips that we recommend to protect your information online.

Email
Be very cautious when viewing emails from unrecognized senders.
Do not click on links or pop-up ads in unsolicited emails.
Be aware that many scams involve impersonators trying to access your sensitive information and assets.2

Passwords
Make passwords strong with at least 8- 12 characters — include upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
Change your passwords often and use a password vault.
Never use confidential data or information that is easily found about you online in your user names or passwords.

Online Profiles
Be selective about what you share on social media and with whom you share it.
Set privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for sharing.

Internet Navigation
Use only trusted networks, apps, and computers.
Never click on links or attachments from unknown sources.
Choose “Yes” when browsers prompt you to update. Updated versions of these browsers best protect you against security threats.
Adjust the settings on your browsers to warn you about threats to your security, like popups and spyware.

Financial Protection
Review all your statements and immediately report anything suspicious.
Never send your personal account information via unsecure channels like email, chat and text.
Be aware of your financial firm’s guidelines for identity verification and fund requests.3

Document Storage
Save your tax returns and financial records. Print out a copy and keep in a safe place. Make an electronic copy in a safe spot as well. If you store sensitive tax and financial records on your computer, use a file encryption program to add an additional layer of security should your computer be compromised.4

Just Do It
Challenge yourself to be proactive — it’s worth it! One simple suggestion is to block out a 30-minute slot on your calendar each month to reset passwords, review financial statements and update your security settings. Once you have implemented this simple action plan you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have a structured, and repeatable, system in place to protect yourself.

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1Net Losses: Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime Santa Clara: McAfee, 2014
2Chatzky, Jean Protect Your Personal Data AARP, 14 Apr. 2014, 02 Dec. 2016
3Muir, Ian Being Vigilant with Cybersecurity Charles Schwab, 02 Dec. 2016
4Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft Publication 4524 (Rev. 9-2015) Catalog Number 48359Q Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service

As a convenience to our readers, some blogs contain links to information created and maintained by other organizations. Loring Ward does not control, cannot guarantee, and is not responsible for the accuracy, timeliness, or continued availability or existence of this outside information. Where the views expressed are those of Loring Ward, they are not intended as investment advice, or a forecast or guarantee of future results. It should not be assumed that investments in any of the security types listed were or will prove profitable.

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