There has been a dramatic increase in the number of cyber attacks and identity theft cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, both globally and locally. Fear and confusion resulting from the pandemic, along with increased internet activity due to millions of people working and schooling from home, have created fertile ground for cyber criminals.
Now more than ever it is critical that we exercise caution and use best practices to protect our information and our assets. Following are two steps you should take to help protect your information from falling into the hands of a cyber criminal. These steps won’t eliminate cyber crime risks but will significantly reduce them.
• Use two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, any time you login to a website to access banking or financial information. Most financial institutions, including Fidelity and Charles Schwab, can send a unique one-time code to your cell phone to be entered into their website when logging in. Thus, in order to login to the site, you would need your password as well as your cell phone. We highly recommend that you enable this feature as soon as possible. Let us know if you need assistance enabling this important feature. You can add an additional layer of protection through security features with your phone carrier (such as Verizon’s NumberLock and AT&T’s Extra Security Account Passcode).
• A second preventative step is to use a password manager. Many people use the same password for multiple sites. If a cyber criminal were to obtain this password, he or she would have access to your information on multiple sites. Password manager tools allow you to keep all of your user ids and passwords in one secure place. They will even suggest unique passwords for each website you visit, so you don’t have to constantly make up new ones. However, you should only use a password manager that requires two-factor authentication upon logging in. Several vendors offer password managers. Two that we know of are www.lastpass.com and www.roboform.com.
Your Pathway team is available to assist you navigate what at times can feel like a confusing and overwhelming cyber security landscape. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.
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