7 Ways to Protect Yourself (and Your Money) Online

A woman making a secure payment on a laptop.

Whether it’s paying credit card bills, checking bank account balances, or doing some shopping, much of today’s financial activity takes place online. While the internet has undoubtedly made it much easier to manage money, there are risks to using the World Wide Web. Each year, hundreds of millions of people fall prey to cyber crimes like identity theft and fraud.

Fortunately, there are a number of measures that you can take to keep yourself, and your money, safe online. Read on to learn about seven essential cybersecurity practices that everyone should follow.

1. Consistently Update Your Computers and Devices

To ward off malware, viruses, and other online threats, it is important to keep your operating system, web browser, and security software up to date. When you turn on “automatic updates,” you can easily ensure that you always have the latest fixes and improvements.

2. Use Strong PasswordsA password being entered on a tablet.

A strong password helps keep your personal and financial data out of the hands of cyber criminals. The best passwords are at least eight characters long and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (such as exclamation points or question marks).

3. Don’t Fall for Phishing Scams

“Phishing” refers to a type of scam in which criminals use fraudulent emails and websites to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing private account or login information. In most cases, criminals will craft emails that are meant to impersonate reputable organizations. If you receive a suspicious email, do not open any attachments or click on links inside the message. It is also a good idea to forward phishing scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov and to the bank, company, or organization impersonated in the email.

4. Guard Your Personal Information on Social Media

Look over any social media profiles you may have and see what sort of personal information is visible to the public. Many websites use security questions like “What is your mother’s maiden name” as part of their password reset tool, so it is important that the answers to these queries aren’t readily available on your Facebook or Twitter pages. Make sure that your social media accounts have the highest security settings and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.

A Wi-Fi router.5. Keep Your Internet Connection Secure

Your home wireless network should be password protected so you aren’t vulnerable to hackers or other cyber criminals. If you bring your laptop or mobile device to a coffee shop, library, or another place with public Wi-Fi, be cautious about sending any sensitive information over the network. Those who regularly connect to public Wi-Fi should consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which secures and encrypts your communications.

6. Be Smart When Shopping Online

When shopping online, consumers should only make purchases from websites that use secure technology. A site’s checkout page should always have a web address that begins with “https”, which means that the website is encrypted. Consumers should also look for a small locked padlock symbol to the left of the web address.

7. Actually Read Privacy Policies

While privacy policies aren’t particularly stimulating reads, they do contain valuable information about how a website protects the personal information it collects. It is wise to avoid conducting business on websites that have privacy policies that are incomprehensible or nonexistent.

About Tennessee State BankThe corporate headquarters for Tennessee State Bank.

Tennessee State Bank has been serving our local community for over 45 years. With branches in Sevier County, Knox County, Cocke County, and Jefferson County, we offer convenient banking services in East Tennessee. Whether you’re looking to open a checking account, obtain an auto loan, or apply for a home mortgage, we make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. Tennessee State Bank’s motto is “Banking at its Best!”SM, and we strive to live up to that creed every day. Let us know how we can help you by sending us a message via our Contact Form.

Tennessee State Bank is Member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.

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References

“Protecting Yourself Online.” American Bankers Association, www.aba.com/Consumers/Pages/Protect-Online.aspx