If you think about the growing role the Internet plays in our financial lives, it’s easy to get nervous. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data breaches grew 45% from 2016 to 2017. But Bashar Abouseido, Schwab’s chief information security officer, says a few straightforward steps can help protect your investments online.
- Use a long and unique password for each account. According to the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, “81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen and/or weak passwords.” Bashar suggests varying your passwords to make it tougher for cybercriminals to use credentials stolen from one site to access your data on another.
- Vary usernames. The principle is the same as with passwords: Using different logins, especially for financial apps, can provide an added layer of protection. Avoid using your primary email address as your username whenever possible.
- Use two-step verification. This is one of the most secure ways to log in to your app or device. As the name suggests, ‘two-step verification’ requires two steps to log in to an account. For example, an app may require you to provide your password in combination with your thumbprint or a passcode sent via text to your smartphone.
- Beware public Wi-Fi. Before opening a financial app or making a purchase online, find a private location where onlookers cannot see your screen and make sure you're connected to a private, secure Wi-Fi access point.
- Keep your profile information current. Update your contact information and enable alerts on all your financial apps to ensure you receive timely notice of suspicious account activity, allowing you to react more quickly to unauthorized use.
The bottom line: Implement these simple safety measures to help secure your financial information and guard against someone stealing your identity.