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6 Ways to Prevent Cybercrime: Steps You Can Take Now to Protect Personally Identifiable Information

6 Ways to Prevent Cybercrime: Steps You Can Take Now to Protect Personally Identifiable Information

| May 20, 2021

6 Ways to Prevent Cybercrime: Steps You Can Take Now to Protect Your PII (Personally Identifiable Information)

Have you ever had money stolen from your checking account?  I have, three times over the last 13 years.  Fortunately, my bank was able to act quickly to minimize the impact.  They even refunded my money within a few days.  While I am certainly happy that I was reimbursed, I did feel bad for the bank because they were out the money or their insurance company was.  The total taken from my checking account was around $7,500 between all three incidents. 

Cybercrime Magazine Online's Steve Morgan, Editor in Chief, reported that "If it were measured as a country, then cybercrime — which is predicted to inflict damages totaling $6 trillion globally in 2021 — would be the world's third-largest economy after the U.S. and China."

That's trillion with a capital "T"!

Cybersecurity Ventures stated that by 2025 the number could reach the $10 Trillion mark.

This onslaught of computer cybercrimes making headlines results from technology applications outpacing our ability to keep information secure.

Several recent articles on cybercrimes offer even more ideas to keep yourself digitally safe.

Alarming Cybersecurity Stats: What You Need To Know For 2021

What we investigate: Cybercrime FBI News

As Financial Advisors, we care about protecting people from outside threats. That includes how cybercrimes can harm you. Personally Identifiable Information is precisely what the name implies it is. Any information that calls out your identity.  Some examples include your social security number, name, internet protocol (IP) address, even facial recognition.  This information can give cybercriminals the access they need to hack your computer, steal your data, and potentially drain your bank accounts.

The following are a few simple steps to reduce your chances of becoming a cybercrime victim and help keep your information secure.

  1. Make sure your software is up to date.

Simply keeping your software, drivers, apps, and the programs you use updated will help close the open holes in your system that criminals exploit. Security flaws like these are a hacker's best friend. When they access your system through security holes in a software program or operating system, they can write programs that will target your information and interfere with your ability to work on your computer.

  1. Beef up your passwords and enlist the aid of password management programs.
  • Don't use the same password more than one time.
  • Use the recommended password containing at least one upper case letter, one lower case letter, a number, and a symbol like MooCow2117@.
  • Refresh passwords once a quarter or whenever required by the login.
  • Use a password management system; many out on the market use encryption to protect your passwords. You only have to remember one password to access all of your others.
  1. Double confirmation login is your friend. Use it whenever possible.

    Banks and credit card companies are using two-factor or even multi-factor authentication to help identify users.

    A double confirmation system will send a confirmation code to your cell phone via text or notification whenever you log in to a website. You then enter this code into the prompt on the website you are accessing and then log in. It is one of the best ways to secure your data because a cybercriminal would need your password and access to your other device to get into your account.
  2. Don't click on a link or download a file from any email you don't recognize (and even ones you do).

    This method is still a popular way for a cybercriminal to infect your computer with some nasty viruses or take your money. The email will frequently contain grammatical mistakes, and the sender often uses an address you don't recognize. But there are times when things might catch you off guard. Look at the picture below:


Do you get emails from "Apple ID"? Maybe? I don't recall, and after scrolling through 127 social media requests and advertising messages while your boss is asking about the status of their TPS reports. You're exhausted, and then - What? I didn't order this! You can't help but click on it.

Following the on-screen instructions, you enter your login and password, Apple wants you to verify your credit card information, and just like that, you are a victim.

Bottom line, think before you click.

  • Don't open emails from senders you do not know.
  • Question emails that come from places you think you know but are asking for information they should already have.
  • You can hover over links to see where they would take you.
  • Look for grammatical mistakes, and it is okay to be suspicious of mail from people you do not know.
  • Sadly, links can come from friends that have been infected.Social Media - Don't accept friends you don't know.
  1. Social Media - Don't accept friends you don't know.
    Social media is a goldmine of information where people tend to overshare information about themselves, post pictures of their new TVs, vacation pictures, kids, pets, when they are at work, on vacation, or even just shopping. Think about how many times you get friend requests from people that you do not know and have very few friends in common.

Okay, why does he want to connect with me? I don't know him; I don't have any friends in common. Should I friend them? No way? Doing so adds someone into your circle that may not have good intentions. Maybe they are a long-lost cousin, you, but probably not.  Be careful about who you let into your social media circle.  If you wouldn't let them in your home, you might not want to let them into your daily lives.

  • Don't post vacation pictures until you return from vacation
  • Don't let people know your daily routine
  • Don't check into locations
  • Don't post photos of yourself at sporting events
  • Don't post pictures of the interior of your home
  • Don't do quizzes
  • Turn location services off
  1. Get trusted antivirus software for all your computers.

    Use Windows Defender - Microsoft Defender Antivirus is an anti-malware component of Microsoft Windows. It was first released as a downloadable free anti-spyware program for Windows XP and was later shipped with Windows Vista and Windows 7. It has evolved into a complete antivirus program, replacing Microsoft Security Essentials as part of Windows 8 and later versions.

Most computers will come with some essential security software, but this doesn't protect you from everything. Good antivirus software will let you know if something suspicious is happening on your computer. A perfect one will get you in touch with a technician who will fix your computer when they detect something weird happening.

Cybercrime is constantly changing, and keeping yourself in the loop on the tactics criminals use to gather your information is wise.  These steps are not the end, but they are certainly good starting points.