Keeping your information safe in a technical world
It’s a nightmare trying to keep track of the different website logins; passwords that seem to be ever increasingly complicated; PIN numbers and security questions that you have no idea of the answers to; (no I don’t know the name of my favourite teacher!), it's not a surprise that many think technology is making things harder, not easier.
However, the reason behind this is because scammers are getting quite sophisticated. Hacking information and “mining” personal data is a huge industry and for many, even a full-time profession.
The good news is that for those of us who are “technophobes” you don’t need to be an expert or computer whizz to keep yourself protected.
Why you should be wary of your emails:
You may notice that more and more companies are launching online portals for you to view your information - this is because email is not as secure as you may think. Your bank, for example, often can’t send your information as an attachment to an email as it could be infected with a virus. Equally, if your information is in an email then there is a much higher chance that this could end up being viewed by someone other than you. Not only are portals used because they can scan documents on upload to ensure they can be downloaded safely, but they also have a trail so that if someone logs in, they can be traced, making sure only you are able to view your information.
Scammers can scan your personal information from your online profiles such as your LinkedIn profile, Facebook and even check your contacts. That means they can find out who you report to or associate with, and send you an email that appears to be from this person. This email may have a virus which can compromise how secure your information is. Email is an easy way for hackers to be given access to where you store some of your most important information - and the scammers know this.
Six Quick Tips
- Use portals where available to access your personal data rather than email.
- If unsure, check the actual email address rather than the display name.
- Don’t click links or download attachments in emails you don’t trust or recognize.
- Give your “preferred name” to organisations you work with.
- Don’t save your passwords on shared computers.
- Use a secure password, such as a favourite phrase.
You should never save a password on a shared computer. Even family members could use your information - such as toddlers who accidentally buy cars online!
Some tips to bear in mind
If you receive an email that is not from someone you know, then you should avoid clicking links to websites as these can infect your computer.
If something doesn’t quite look right in an email, you can find out if this is the case by checking the actual email address the email was sent from, not the display name. Do this by clicking on the name and you’ll see the full address - you can quickly tell if you recognise it or not.
One way that companies help keep their clients safe is by setting up “preferred names” for you. This means when they send you an email it is always addressed to the same name. At Lifetime, you can ask your Adviser to use a nickname if you want to make it easier to see when things are sent to you. i.e. ‘Joseph Bloggs’ becomes ‘Joey’ or ‘Joe’.
Avoid saving passwords. Although it can seem like a very clever function to make it quick and easy to log into all the different websites, this is only safe if you are the only person who uses your computer. You should never save a password on a shared computer. Even family members could use your information - such as toddlers who accidentally buy cars online!
The more secure your password is, the more secure your information is. Setting a secure password can seem like a difficult task, and many of us would recognise seeing “your password is too weak” pop up multiple times on a word we believe could never be guessed. The most reliable passwords will include at least one capital letter, a special character and a number. One tip you can do is take a phrase that is meaningful to you, and then use the first letter of each word in the that phrase as your password. For example, “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining” can be ECHaSL1#.
Lastly, if you are ever in doubt about an email or website, it is better to be safe than sorry - making sure you have a good anti-virus installed will help - but your best bet would be to mark the email as spam, and then get in contact via a channel you have previously used regarding the email’s content.
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking into consideration any particular users objectives, financial situation or needs. Any opinions contained in it are held as at the report date and are subject to change without notice.