Technology is a growing part of our world and is an even bigger part of our personal finances than ever. People now check their bank accounts online, receive and pay bills electronically and monitor all their investment accounts and transactions over the internet.

Many people download applications on their phone to access and organize their financial information. Most of these applications require passwords and some even use your fingerprint to protect your data. However, the unseen criminal can still access your information if you don’t take the proper precautions.

How are you Vulnerable?

Hackers are the criminal of the future. When using your devices on public Wi-Fi networks that aren’t secure, they can access your device. Another method cyber criminals use to access your data is through email phishing. Phishing is when hackers send you an email in an attempt to have you open a link. These links contain viruses that allow the criminals access to your private information until you remove the virus.

Once they gain access to your data, criminals usually do one of three things; replicate your device, copy usernames and passwords, or track your movements.

Replicating your data and downloading usernames and passwords allows the criminals to access your information and accounts. Once they have access to this information, they can move funds, use your credit cards, or sell your data on the black market. The hackers who access your information to track your position are doing so to attempt to burglarize your home.
How to Protect Your Data

It may seem like hackers are something we have no defense against but in reality, it is quite easy to protect your information. The first step is to make sure your home Wi-Fi is a secured connection that requires a passcode to connect. As long as this is secure, your devices will be safe in your home. When you travel try to avoid unsecure networks if you can. Although this is inconvenient, it is safer to use a personal hotspot or your wireless data to access your secured information. The locations to be most cautious about are places like Starbucks or McDonalds where anyone is allowed to access the unsecured networks.

You also want to make sure what you access on the internet is exactly what it claims to be. We have all had email that slips through our spam filter and ends up in the inbox. The email itself isn’t where you will run into trouble. Spam emails usually will have a hyperlink in which they ask you to access their link under false pretenses of needing to update information, confirm a change to an account, or some other concocted scheme. There are two ways to verify if this is a legitimate email. The first will be the signature area of the email. Verified emails will have disclosures containing some authentication of security. The second is to hover your cursor over the hyperlink. If the link that appears is not where the email claims to be from, do not click on the link! Financial institutions will not usually contact you via email in regards to account changes or other important information so be weary of any claims of back taxes or address changes.

The two biggest things to remember when it comes to Cyber Security is be skeptical of anyone asking for information and keep all of your systems up to date. Being vigilant of who is asking for confidential information and where it is going can protect you from handing out information to the wrong people. Although software updates can sometimes feel unnecessary or useless, these usually update security systems to stay ahead of current viruses. Keep your systems up to date as this gives your computer or phone the best chance to defend against a virus.

Following all of these tips will help keep your systems running smoothly and your information protected. Technology has definitely been a benefit for managing personal data and personal finances but doesn’t come without responsibility. The small amount of time it takes to keep everything secure is minimal compared to how much damage a security breach may create.