A cyberattack happens every 39 seconds, and in 2022, the global annual cost of cybercrime has reached $6 trillion.*

Each October, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is notable to promote the importance of online safety.

With the constant cycle of technological advancements, many banks offer online and mobile banking platforms where consumers can transfer money, pay bills and deposit checks right at their fingertips.

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Although this is convenient, it is important for consumers to be educated on the best ways to protect their finances in an emerging interconnected digital society. Online users need to be aware of the magnitude of data that can be breeched giving cyber criminals the capacity to piece together an entire picture of an individual simply to exploit them.

It is not just usernames and passwords that criminals can access — it can be your entire identity. Your contacts, your behaviors, your likes, your dislikes, where you go, your interests and even who you associate with. Crooks are getting more and more sophisticated, and if you have something they want, they are getting better at luring individuals in with bait.

Melissa Swift is treasury relationship manager for WaFd Bank.

Cyber criminals are tying data together from multiple sources and setting out on very targeted attacks. It is helpful to check out websites such as HaveIBeenPwned, DeHashed, IntelligenceX and Hashcast to see how many times your information has been accessed or released on the web. It also beneficial to perform a search of your name, email address and cell phone number to see what the results are to know exactly what information is stored online.

Even if your information has not been affected, it can be beneficial to act as if it has already been to potentially protect yourself in the future. If you discover your information has been compromised, it is necessary to review all your data that is currently on the Internet and take the necessary precautions to better protect yourself. This can be done by accessing software systems such as DeleteMe, Removaly and SAS for Personal Data Protection.

In regard to social media, it is important to verify whether your profiles are public or private. Consider the type of content you post on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and other platforms. These outlets are huge stores of behavioral data points and a dream for cyber criminals, especially your personal network. 

Think about who you are connected to and who could potentially extract information from them to get to you. This includes information you provide to any source. If sharing that information is not necessary, consider not providing it.

It is also recommended to change passwords regularly. I like to refer to this as “cyber cleaning.” An effective method is putting a reminder on your calendar every three months to change your password to ensure extra safety and minimize your chances of a cyber-attack.

As difficult as it may be, do not utilize the same password on various sites. Keep a list of websites you use regularly and switch up the passwords every three months to maximize security, ensuring each password is strong and not easy to guess. 

Also, authorizing two-factor authentication to receive notifications to your phone number or email address exactly when there is a login to your account is essential to keep your information secure online.

It is important to keep a clean digital footprint for your information online, especially living in a world filled with advancing technologies and criminals who can easily access information and steal from you. Following these steps can minimize your chances of being a victim of a cyber-attack and help make sure your information online is safe.

*Source: www.dataprot.net/statistics/cyber-security-statistics 

Author: Melissa Swift is treasury relationship manager for WaFd BankFounded in 1917, WaFd Bank has over 200 branches in eight western states and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. WaFd Bank offers a full spectrum of banking services including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, mobile and online banking, real estate financing, retirement plans and loans. To learn more about WaFd Bank, please visit www.wafdbank.com.