Is Your Family's Online Information Protected?

By Brittany Goodwillie, CFP®

The first Thursday of May was World Password Day.  If you missed it, you can still celebrate by taking some practical steps to protect your family’s sensitive data.  

Usernames and passwords alone offer little protection for your online accounts.  If a hacker gains access to your accounts, they can gain access to a lot of information that you don’t want them to have.  Adding an additional authentication method makes it much harder for hackers to break into your accounts.

Multi-factor authentication, also referred to as two-factor authentication, is often used by banks, financial institutions, email providers, social media accounts, and other businesses to confirm your identity when you try to access your account.  Instead of only asking for your username and password, multi-factor authentication will also require that you enter a second factor. This can be security questions, a text message code, or another security token.

Though many institutions offer multi-factor authentication, it is not usually required.  You must choose to enable the feature.  Once enabled, you will need to use the second factor when logging into your account from new devices.  Criminals who try to use your ID and password will be denied access to your accounts without access to the second factor.

For more information on multi-factor authentication and for specific tutorials on how to set it up for your accounts, visit the World Password Day website.  If you have any questions on how to set up multi-factor authentication on your accounts, we would be happy to help!  

In addition to setting up multi-factor authentication, it is also best practice to follow these tips:

  • Keep your software up to date to ensure you have the latest security updates installed.

  • Always avoid sending sensitive data via email without any password protection.  

  • Don’t click on any links when you receive an email from somebody you don’t know.  Hackers can use links to steal data from your computer.

  • Remember that hackers can get access to your friends and families email accounts and try to trick you into sending them money, so always talk to someone personally before sending money online.  

  • Be suspicious of any email that asks for personal or financial information.  Usually financial institutions will never ask for sensitive data via email so It could be a scam.  

  • Put a password on your phone and other devices, and always log out of your accounts when you are done using them.  

  • When shopping online, be sure you are entering payment information into a secure, trusted site.  Hackers can try to redirect you to their websites to enter payment information, so be careful.

  • You should use a credit check service to check your credit score often to be sure you don’t notice any suspicious behavior.  Many of these services will alert you when your credit score changes and let you know the cause, so you will know if someone tries to open an account in your name.  

  • For extra security, it can be beneficial to use an identity theft protection service to have someone else monitoring your personal information to alert you of any threats.  

If you are ever suspicious of any email or online website, it is always best to proceed with caution to protect your family's sensitive data.