Cybercrime has become one of the most significant threats to our society. High-profile data breaches are frequently in the news, affecting some of the nation’s largest companies. Many dread having their identity stolen, but sadly identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America today. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 17 million people experienced identity theft in 2014. The amount of money stolen in the past six years totals $112 billion. The average loss per incident is just shy of $5,000. Adding insult to injury, the amount of time spent undoing the damage is enormous.
Cybercrime takes on many forms, but 70% of cyberattacks use some combination of phishing and hacking. Email account takeover is one of the most common tactics of fraudsters, and is frequently used to solicit funds from financial institutions. Fraudsters use other tactics, such as malware, credential replay, social engineering, call forwarding, and spoofing, to name a few.
As unsettling as the situation may be, fortunately there are many ways to take action to protect yourself from the threat. By taking preemptive action and remaining vigilant, you can reduce the probability of loss from such attacks.
What Can You Do?
Most confirmed data breaches were made possible by weak, default, or stolen passwords. Using strong passwords is the first line of defense against identity theft. A strong password contains 8-12 characters, upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Using unique passwords for each account is an added layer of protection. It’s also good to change your passwords every 90 days, even when not required to do so. Additionally, don’t use information that can be easily guessed about yourself (like your birthday), don’t share your passwords with others, and don’t store passwords online. If the option is available, use two-factor authentication, which makes it much more difficult for hackers to compromise.
In addition to using strong passwords, only use wireless networks you trust, and be cautious about using public computers. Be careful about what software you download. Understand that secure websites start with “https,” not “http.” Log out completely when finished using a website. Hover over questionable links to reveal the actual website destination. Always be careful about what websites you visit and what emails you open, and limit the information you share online and via social media. Finally, keep your equipment and anti-virus software up to date.
Keeping watch over bank and credit card statements is critical. Review them regularly to look for any suspicious activity. Never transfer personal or account information via email or text, and don’t respond to requests for personal information via email or unknown incoming caller.
What Does Johnson Investment Counsel Do?
We take cybersecurity and all forms of fraud prevention seriously. We have a comprehensive cybersecurity program, and we frequently test and review our systems, policies, and procedures to ensure the integrity of our defenses. We make it a priority to raise awareness among employees, training and educating all of our people to defend against fraud. We also thoroughly vet all staff and vendors prior to engaging them to ensure safety of sensitive information. We pride ourselves on providing excellent client service, and protecting your information and assets is a critical part of our job.