A Beginners Guide to Cyber Security: How to protect your personal data

Feeling a sense of security is incredibly important to many people, that’s why we put locks on our doors, windows, cabinets, and cell phones. Locks, no matter how weak, make us feel more secure and protected. However, even if you’ve perfected your home’s security, your personal information and data may still be unprotected against online threats.

Every year, priceless information, from social security numbers to bank account information, is stolen by cyber criminals hacking into unprotected personal devices. Statistically, one in every four people with stolen data will become victims of identity theft. Valuable information is left on phones and home computers, unprotected against theft by data thieves and hackers. While your money, name, and identity may be in danger, protection is easier than you think. Following the tips below, you can easily help protect yourself and your information against would-be hackers.


Tips for Data & Identity Theft Prevention

Limit what you share on social media

Posting about your anniversary or your kids’ birthday may seem like another harmless social media post, but the valuable information associated with these personal events is exactly what cyber criminals are stalking the internet and social media for. No social media post is ever worth risking your cyber security for, no matter how many likes it might get. The best way to keep personal information as private as possible is to keep it OFF social media.

Avoid posting:

  • Full names
  • Family member’s names
  • Kids birthdays
  • Your birthday
  • Anniversaries
  • Lucky numbers
  • The names of family/childhood pets
  • Street names

This information can be used to guess weak passwords and security questions.

Password Strength is Everything

Long, complicated passwords might be annoying and hard to remember, but they are your first and best line of defense against cyber criminals. The best passwords are random, long, and complex with a wide variety of characters, symbols, and numbers to prevent any educated guesses by third parties.

Always avoid passwords containing personal information like the kind listed above. Although personal passwords are potentially easier for you to remember, they are just as easy for hackers to break or guess, leaving you vulnerable.

You’re also advised to never use the same password for more than one account, this prevents multiple security breaches if a cyber criminal does manage to get their hands on one of your passwords.

Monitor your bank statements

If a cyber criminal finds their way into your bank account, it’s very likely that you won’t notice right away, especially if you don’t regularly monitor your bank statements.

Cyber criminals often use stolen account information to make a few small transactions (spending a few dollars at unassuming vendors like a local Walmart, Starbucks, or Amazon) before withdrawing or spending larger amounts of cash. They do this to check that the account info they have is valid and relatively un-monitored, guaranteeing eventual unfiltered access to an account. If their minimal transactions go unnoticed, then they are free to steal your money whenever they want without warning.

There are simple ways to combat this kind of theft. Regularly monitoring your bank accounts, closely reading monthly statements, and setting up automatic transaction notifications on your phone or computer can help you catch unauthorized purchases. If you notice unfamiliar charges in your accounts, it’s important to freeze your account, cancel you card, and report the incident to your bank immediately.

Use your shredder

Everyone should have a quality, well-used shredder at their disposal. It’s important to shred all important documents, bank statements, and personal/sensitive information like bills and medical statements before throwing them away.

If your bank statements end up in the trash, you’re only making it easier for strangers to get their hands on your full name, your address, and your account information. When in doubt, shred any and all mail or trash that could contain personal information. You can also sign up to receive your monthly statements via email, protecting both your information and the environment.

Avoid public WiFi networks

Free public WiFi can be an incredible convenience, especially in a pinch. Unfortunately, public WiFi networks can pose a significant risk to unassuming and undefended users. When you connect to a public WiFi network, anyone else using the network can easily access your personal device and harvest your data; including names, phone numbers, email addresses, bank account information, and social media login information.

use a vpn

VPNs (Virtual Proxy Networks) are incredibly useful and simple tools that help protect your data and your identity on all your mobile devices. VPNs work by creating a private, impenetrable network, disguising your IP address to make both you and your information untraceable. When you use a VPN, firewalls, proxy servers, and privatized browsing make it impossible to access your data from the outside, sensitive or otherwise. VPNs are cheap, easy to install, and simple to use. They are possibly your best line of defense against potential data thieves.


Built-in Cyber Security Protection

Thankfully, most banks today are heavily fortified against data breaches. However, making purchases online, at restaurants, filling up your car with gas, or picking up a pumpkin latte from your favorite coffee shop can make you vulnerable. That’s why it’s important to find banks that provide advanced security and data protection options, so you know that your money, information, and identity are safe against even the most experienced hackers! Look for things like:

  • Identity theft monitoring and resolution services that monitor your Equifax, Experian and Transunion credit files daily and automatically alert you if key changes occur.
  • Identity theft expense reimbursement coverage that pays up to $10,000
  • Easy debit and credit card registration, cancellation, and replacement
  • Total identity monitoring of over 1,000 databases.


Better to be Safe Than Sorry

When in doubt about your cyber security, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. While you can’t completely protect against all data breaches, following these tips and using common sense are your best lines of defense against an online attack or data breach! To learn more about how Liberty Savings Bank helps protect its customer’s data, visit our website HERE and check out our Gold account’s comprehensive security features.


Identity Theft


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