How you can fight off cyber fraud while living the virtual life.
Since the pandemic has spread across the globe, many of us have been conducting more of our school, work and social lives online. Cybercriminals have followed us there—seeing more opportunities to gain access to our financial and other personal information.
Our homes, where we generally feel safest and most relaxed, are often less cyber-secure than we imagine, especially if children are using our networks.
Indeed, phishing email attacks increased a stunning 667% as the COVID-19 crisis hit the United States hard, according to one U.S. data security firm that measured attacks on systems they monitored from the end of February into March.1
So what are you and your family doing to keep cybersafe these days?
Here are several device, network and internet safety tips. Some may be new to you. Others are simply good reminders. All of this advice is worth considering—whether you and your family are in lockdown or free to roam about the world.
1. Keep your devices healthy.
We cannot stress how important it is that you make sure all the devices in your household have anti-virus software. By “all devices,” we mean the desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices that every member of your family probably uses.
Hackers have created malware for every type of device and operating system. Anti-virus software is advisable for Apple products as well as Windows and Android.
You also want all devices to have the latest versions of operating systems and applications. Usually, you can find software upgrades in your devices’ “settings” menu.
And be sure to use only the sources you trust whenever you and your family buy or download applications.
You are the best keeper of your device's security!
2. Divide and conquer: Set up two networks for your household.
Two networks for one household, a “nice to have” precaution, are vital when you and your children are working, socializing, learning, playing and enjoying entertainment online.
- One network is your “vault”—Use it for all your sensitive transactions: remote work, banking, online shopping, etc.
- The second network is your “living room”—Use it for all socializing, schooling, gaming and entertainment.
Whenever you set up a network, be sure to change the “out of the box” default password to one that only you and your family know. To help everyone in your household keep the different uses of your two networks clear, give each a distinct name (like “vault” and “living room”).
Why make this effort? The payoff is big for wireless network security. Having two separate virtual realms helps thwart scammers from using your social and other activities, which may be less secure, to gain access to your confidential financial and personal information.
3. Get smart about videoconferencing.
A few simple precautions can help make most videoconferencing platforms safer:
- Familiarize yourself with the application’s security and privacy settings.
- Create a password for every meeting and pay attention to who asks to join.
- Avoid sharing too much by protecting personal information visually. Consider using a virtual background or review the objects your camera shows (can others see your diplomas, family photos, security systems, etc.).
- Protect your video-capable devices with a webcam cover. You want to be sure to block the view whenever you are not using your camera.
- Consider modifying your profile name. You may want to avoid revealing your full identity, particularly if attending a public video meeting.
4. Strengthen your basic defenses.
Change your passwords regularly and make sure each one is long and complex.
The ideal way to create a new password is to make sure it contains (1) a phrase, favorite song or book title (2) not only upper- and lower-case letters but also numerals and special characters. Think about using a reputable password manager to help you manage and change passwords regularly.
Use alerts and multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a second layer of protection whenever it's offered.
MFA is one of the strongest layers of security you can add to help avoid an account takeover, and it’s available not just for your online banking but also for your mobile carrier email, social media and shopping accounts. Take advantage.
5. Be vigilant and verify credentials.
Do not assume any request is genuine, whether it comes to you through email, phone or social media. Just because requesters may know some information about you or your family or business doesn’t mean they’re legitimate. Coronavirus-related scams are rampant. Cybercriminals are looking to prey on people’s desire for information and willingness to help others.
When people call or email looking for information, double-check by reaching back out to them via another medium to verify their identity and request. Call back before sharing any personal information.
Remember, J.P. Morgan will never:
- Ask you to log in to the same computer with more than one user’s credentials.
- Ask you to repeatedly submit login credentials.
- Contact you about online problems, such as logging in, if you haven’t contacted us first.
For more of our insights, please visit our cybersecurity site by clicking here.
1Fleming Shi, “Threat Spotlight: Coronavirus-Related Phishing,” Barracuda Networks. March 26, 2020. https://blog.barracuda.com/2020/03/26/threat-spotlight-coronavirus-related-phishing/