Let’s face it. If you have a presence on the internet, sooner or later one (or more) of your accounts will get hacked. The resulting damage might be significant, or simply annoying. But there is a very high probability that it’s going to happen. Earlier this year, one million Gmail account passwords were stolen in just one hack attack.
That’s why it is absolutely critical to prioritize security in your digital activity, especially when it comes to banking and other money-related activity. Here are two ways to up your security game before you become a cyber-crime statistic.
1. Have a person. It’s vitally important to have a relationship with a human being at your bank, brokerage house and other financial institutions where you conduct business. A contact who knows even a little bit about you will provide a powerful firewall against digital fraud.
Say, for example, someone steals your Gmail password and learns that you planning to build a retirement cabin. The hacker could email your financial planner and request that $10,000 be sent to “my new bank account” being used to fund the cabin project. If the planner knows you at all, he’ll arch an eyebrow and call you to make sure the requested transfer is legit.
2. Implement two-factor authentication – now. Passwords don’t provide enough security anymore. They are easy to steal (or guess), and once a hacker has that magic word, it’s open season on your data. Two-factor authentication makes your website accounts more secure by requiring both a password and a one-time-use code to log in. The code is generated by the website and sent to your cell phone or other mobile device. Yes, the extra step is a bit of a pain, but nothing compared to the potential agony of getting hacked.
Here are some popular sites/services that offer two-factor authentication. If you use any of these, you should activate the feature, asap.
– Google/Gmail: Google’s two-factor system sends a six-digit code via text message when you try to log in from a new computer, though it also works with the Google Authenticator app for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry. You can save each machine for 30 days.
– Yahoo! Mail: Yahoo’s two-factor authentication delivers a six-digit code via text message when you try to sign in from an unknown device.
– Facebook: The social media site’s Login Approvals sends you a six-digit code via text message when you attempt to log in from a new machine. It also works with apps like Google Authenticator for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry. You can authorize a new machine from Facebook.com on a saved machine if you don’t have your phone available.
– LinkedIn: The professional networking site sends you a six-digit code via text when you attempt to log in from a new device.
– Microsoft accounts: Microsoft’s sends a seven-digit code via text message or email when you attempt to log in from a new device, though it also works with a number of authenticator apps.
– Apple: Apple’s system sends you a four-digit code via text message or Find My iPhone notifications when you attempt to log in from a new machine. You can enable it here, or check out Apple’s documentation for more info.
– Dropbox: The cloud storage service’s two-factor authentication sends you a six-digit code via text message when you attempt to log in from a new computer. It also works with Google Authenticator and some similar authentication apps.
– Evernote: Free Evernote users will need to use an authenticator app like Google Authenticator for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry, though premium users can also receive a code via text message to log into a new device.
– PayPal: PayPal’s system issues you a six-digit code via text when you attempt to sign in from a new machine.