5 cybersecurity safety tips

Finances

Access to the internet has changed the way businesses and their customers interact. The convenience and speed of transactions, access to personal, financial and business accounts, and for many of us, the availability of information have made the internet indispensable for modern businesses and everyday life.

Chuck Herrin, Chief Information Security Officer at Athene, shares some insights: "With the internet's speed and convenience come new threats and risks. Businesses such as Athene have implemented strong controls to ensure interactions with our customers and business partners are secure. However, the business side is only half of the equation.

"With the number of large breaches over the last decade, consumers should assume their data is somewhere unexpected and adopt a model called ‘assumed breach.' In major breaches, consumers don't lose their data directly. What is in your control is the impact that someone else's loss event will have on you."

Here are several recommendations and tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how to protect yourself on the internet. 

  1. Update your software. 
    Keep your software — including your operating system, web browsers and apps — up to date. Outdated software makes it easier for criminals to break into your devices. Most software can update automatically, so verify yours is set to do so.
  2. Make your password long, and use passphrases to help make them memorable. 
    Try to be unpredictable — don't use names, dates or common words. Avoid using the same password for many accounts. If it's stolen, thieves can use it to take over all your accounts. Also, don't share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Keep in mind legitimate companies will not ask you for your password.

    If you write down a password, keep it locked up. Herrin recommends using a reputable password manager. Choose a highly rated solution that meets your needs and supports your preferred operating system.
  3. Use multifactor authentication when available. 
    This requires both your password and an additional piece of information such as a code sent to your phone or a random number generated by an app or token. Forensic evidence shows that the use of multifactor authentication reduces the risk of account takeover by nearly 99%. Herrin recommends using it everywhere it's offered.
  4. Back up your files. 
    No system is completely secure. Copy your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. If your computer is attacked by malware, you'll still have access to your files.
  5. Protect your personal information.
    Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report with the major credit reporting agencies. It's free and provides an effective defense if your information is lost or stolen.

    "It's important to guard your information," Herrin adds. "You have the right to ask questions and demand verification before providing information to anyone. If you feel uneasy, trust your instincts and say no."

By maintaining a vigilant posture over what you can control, you protect yourself from most impacts of data loss or theft, whether the attacks are targeted at you or someone else. The FTC's Online Security site also offers additional consumer tips and guidelines.

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions to help make your retirement dreams a reality.

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