We brought in an MIT expert to share insights into protecting against cyber threats.
Last week, we hosted a complimentary cyber security seminar for all our clients and partners at the Andover Inn. Given the massive data breaches that we’ve all seen in the media over the past few years, cyber security is on everyone’s minds. Cyber attacks are one of the top threats facing financial advisory firms. Our firm is committed to best practices in all areas. Thus, we feel it is critical to educate our clients on techniques to protect themselves. MIT grad Anne Westerheim, PhD and head of local IT firm Ekaru llc, was our presenter. Ann is an expert in IT/security related matters. She highlighted some great tips to protect one’s privacy. The sad reality is that there are hackers out there 24/7 sending you spoofing e-mails, trying to guess your passwords or hack into your system. However, you can seriously thwart their efforts by following several simple tips:
- Use different passwords for all your apps, web sites, social media accounts, bills, etc.!!! We know it’s a pain, but your information is definitely already out there on the dark web. If you use the same password for everything, a hacker can conveniently access everything you log into on a regular basis. Keeping a written list of passwords is unsafe and cumbersome, so try using a password management app.
- Anytime you get an e-mail from someone that you supposedly know but there is a sense of urgency (ie. I need you to send me a gift card ASAP – can’t talk busy, etc.), it is 100% a scam. The counterparty’s e-mail may have been hacked, or look closely – their e-mail address may be off by 1 character.
- When it comes to passwords, the longer the better. Hackers have programs that just run in the background all day long trying different password combos as they attempt to login to sites you regularly use. The longer you make your passwords, they become exponentially more difficult to crack. Again – a good password manager app can recommend strong passwords for you.
- Whenever you get e-mails from a retailer – Target, CVS, Macy’s, etc., always hover your mouse over the senders e-mail. Make sure that the e-mails, which typically contain attractive offers, are actually coming from a domain ending in target.com, cvs.com, etc. Otherwise this may be a spoofing e-mail trying to get your info or put malware on your computer.
- Update your Windows patches regularly! There are always new updates coming out that will tighten up your security. Ignoring these updates leaves you vulnerable to “back door” attacks. Along these lines, restart your computer at least weekly. Many software updates happen during restarts.
This complimentary seminar was part of our ongoing client education series. We have experts from various fields come in to share their knowledge and answer questions. Past topics include Medicare, long-term care insurance, succession planning, and social security. Please subscribe to our blog on the right hand side of the page to hear more about our updates and events!