Three Ways to Keep Your Money Safer Online
written by Joshua Coffman
I personally think that all of us should move away from traditional banking to decentralized “currencies” like Bitcoin, but since many people still use traditional banking, I wanted to talk about a couple different things to help keep my family and friends’ finances secure.
1. Use an entirely separate device for online banking.
At first this sounds outlandish, but it illustrates a point that if you have very little security education, you often outsource your security to other people. Expecting your Windows operating system, your browser, and your device itself to operate securely is just asking to be hacked.
And in the decade where we each have several devices already, making one exclusively used for online banking should be a relatively easy decision, even if it takes discipline.
So, WHY? you may ask. If you use your device for basically anything else, or if anyone else has any type of access to the device and can view or download pornography, your device will most definitely have some type of malware. Basically a virus. Get a passcode, educate anyone that has access to that passcode about your new commitment to security, and use discipline to only use that device for your banking.
2. Don’t reuse passwords, usernames, or even security questions
So, this is another difficult paradigm to get used to, but any reuse of information online opens you up to a myriad of attacks. People can fish for information from you to gain access to your accounts, this is a special type of information spying, called “phishing.”
Never reuse passwords. In fact, I recommend if you have a small online presence, writing down the passwords you use, even for Facebook, and securely locking them away. Don’t put them in a book behind the desk where snooping people can gain access to them. Even if you trust everyone in your home, your information is too valuable to leave vulnerable in that way.
If you have a larger online presence and use more than 5-10 passwords (which is most of us nowadays), I would recommend getting familiar with password managers. Encrypted password managers. Encrypted password managers that reside on your device, not the cloud. For sure, do NOT save your passwords in a file on your computer or on a service like Dropbox.
At the writing of this article, I recommend 1Password. But like I said, you shouldn’t take my word for it necessarily.
But let’s talk about the tricky one, security questions. Online applications have a habit of asking you personal questions that supposedly “only you” should be able to remember. But now that most of our lives are online cough Facebook cough even those intimate details are no longer secure enough to use.
Instead of telling the truth on those “security questions,” I recommend making answers up and making different answers for each service that you use. Keep track of your answers in your password manager.
3. Immediately stop using anything but Google Chrome.
Mozilla Firefox used to be a recommended web browser but even that is no longer considered “safe” by many in the security industry. And if you are using Internet Explorer or even Edge, you are leaving yourself wide open to attack.
Google Chrome is especially safe, especially if you make sure that you close it down every day. This allows it to update constantly. I’ll spare you the details on how it keeps you especially safe, but as long as you aren’t using it’s password save function, Google Chrome is my recommended browser to stay secure.
If you implement these three things immediately, you will be safer from hackers. But there are plenty of people out there that want to take advantage of you and steal your money. I have a friend who is pretty savvy with technology and he wasn’t careful with a new program he downloaded, and he ended up losing over $10,000 from not paying close enough attention to his security.
Please, please, please… Take personal responsibility for your security. Don’t outsource security to your bank, your cousin or your spouse. Take responsibility for your valuables, including your personal information.
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