Hardening Your Financial Accounts
  • 15 Apr 2024
  • 3 Minutes to read
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Hardening Your Financial Accounts

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Article Summary

Cybercriminals constantly target all of our accounts, but perhaps one of the most damaging accounts they can breach are your financial accounts.

It's imperative to take the proper steps to protect your bank, 401K and brokerage accounts, as well as any other financial accounts you may have. When money is stolen from one of these accounts, it can be incredibly difficult to retrieve stolen funds.

Take these steps to ensure your financial accounts remain secure:

  • Practice Good Password Hygiene: For each of your financial accounts, create a strong, unique password or passphrase. Never reuse passwords or passphrases, and consider storing them in a password manager for safe keeping.
  • Enable Multifactor Authentication: Be sure to enable multifactor authentication for all of your financial accounts. The additional layer of security will make it harder for bad actors to access your accounts. When choosing an MFA method, use an authenticator application or a physical security key rather than receiving a code via SMS text message or email.
  • Enable Account Notifications: Navigate your settings to receive account notifications for everything from reminders to reset your password or for any transactions you may make. This can help you spot any suspicious activity, and some banks will even notify you if there are discrepancies in your activity as well.
  • Set Up Notifications for Certain Transactions: Some financial institutions, such as Bank of America, allow you to set up notifications to approve transactions, transfers and wires over a certain dollar amount.
  • Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they are often set up with minimal security measures in place, if there are any at all. This means cybercriminals would be able to monitor the activity of anyone who connects to these public networks. Thus, if you logged into one of your financial accounts on a public Wi-Fi network, cybercriminals would be able to see your activity and possibly steal your login credentials.
  • Use a VPN Instead: If you need to access a financial account and you are outside of your secure networks, connect to a VPN before you log in. By using a VPN, cybercriminals would not be able to see your activity.
  • Monitor Your Accounts: Get in the routine of monitoring your accounts for any suspicious activity. By spotting a fraudulent transaction early, you have a far better chance of recovering your lost funds.
  • Sign Up for Identity Monitoring and Account Monitoring Services: To help monitor your accounts, you can sign up for identity and account monitoring services to keep you abreast of any chances made to your accounts.
  • Protect Your Mobile Accounts: It's also a good idea to secure your mobile provider accounts as well. Cybercriminals may try and breach your mobile provider accounts to try and take control of your phone number, which they can do via SIM hijacking. By doing this, cybercriminals can grab ahold of MFA codes and password reset links, allowing them to enter your financial accounts and steal your money.
  • Keep Your Devices Up-to-Date: Download security updates for your devices when they are available. This will patch vulnerabilities cybercriminals may exploit to gain access to your device and any financial accounts that reside within it.
  • Keep an Eye Out for Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals may send phishing messages to you in an attempt to coerce you into turning over sensitive information. They may pose as a representative from one of your financial institutions and ask you to turn over login credentials and other personal information to remedy a problem that doesn't exist. It's always important to remember that no legitimate institution of any kind will ask you for personal information to remedy an account problem.

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