We all need to be concerned about cyber security issues. Governments, businesses, financial institutions and hospitals gather, process and store confidential information on computers. The information is then transmitted through networks to other computers. Cyber security focuses on protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unintended or unauthorized access, change or destruction. With the growing volume and sophistication of cyber attacks, diligent attention is required to protect personal information.
What to Do When a Computer / Device / Account Has Been Hacked
- Reporting identity theft is a critical step toward fixing things when you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
- Contact banks immediately, open new accounts and monitor for additional fraudulent activity
- Place fraud alert on credit reports
- Review all three credit reports and report fraudulent activity and file local police report
- Run anti-virus scan of computer
- Change passwords
- Update all software on all device
Recent scams also have included tax return fraud, gift card scams, ransom themes, fraudulent donation requests, fake government services websites and business email fraud. To keep updated on the most recent cyber security scams, visit and bookmark the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) IC3 site at www.ic3.gov/media/default.aspx. The IC3’s mission is to receive, develop and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding area of cyber crime. The IC3 also accepts online Internet crime complaints.
Common Sense Security Steps
Credit Reports – Credit reports are very important personal financial planning tools. They can impact approval of credit cards, loans and extension of credit. You can request a free credit report from a nationwide credit reporting company once every 12 months. The three credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax, TransUnion. Since there are three major credit reporting agencies, it makes sense to request one report every four months so you can monitor your credit files at no cost more frequently throughout the year. If you believe that you’ve been the victim of identity theft or fraud, you can place a fraud alert on your credit report. Putting a security freeze on your credit report will generally prevent new credit from being opened in your name.
Searching all minor children’s credit reports is also very important. With some exceptions, most children under age 18 should not have a credit report at all. Minors, however, are not immune to identity theft and credit fraud. So if your youngster has a credit report, find out why.
Social Media – Social media sites offer different levels of security and they are constantly changing. Excluding strangers, marketers and criminals from personal information on social media sites, the possible location of your valuables as well as your whereabouts should be a priority. It is important that you periodically review your privacy settings on social media sites and change your passwords often.
Computers, Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets – It is important to upgrade your computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets to ensure you have the most updated virus, malware and firewall software available. Always create a password for your computers, smartphones and tablets as well as installing “locate my device” app in case of loss or theft. If possible enable two-factor authentication on all devices. Change IDs and passwords frequently and keep them unique (exclude names, DOB, pet’s names, etc.). In addition, always inspect embedded links in emails and text messages before clicking. Fraudulent links can provide personal account information to criminals.
Public WiFi Security – How safe a public WiFi hotspot is depends on the type of network. In general, you should only connect to a secured hotspot that requires a password or web-based security.
Bank & Credit Cards – Always determine when using a debit or credit card that your transaction is safe from being fraudulently recorded. Sign up for debit and credit card alerts for transactions and profile changes to confirm any changes. Do not carry blank checks, a social security card or password/pin numbers in your wallet. Check bank statements and healthcare insurance statements (for fraudulent changes) monthly and, if possible, utilize online banking.
Personal Documents – Place personal documents in a safe place and shred old documents before disposing of them. Give out social security number and other important personal information only when necessary.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES This letter may include forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements (including words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “may,” “will,” “should,” and “expect”). Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Various factors could cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements.” Performance is not indicative of any specific investment or future results. Views regarding the economy, securities markets or other specialized areas, like all predictors of future events, cannot be guaranteed to be accurate and may result in economic loss to the investor. Investment in securities, including mutual funds, involves the risk of loss. Nothing in this letter is intended to be or should be construed as individualized investment advice. All content is of a general nature. Individual investors should consult their investment adviser, accountant, and/or attorney for specifically tailored advice.