Keeping Your Financial Data Safe Online
Digital banking comes with conveniences that we all love, but it can also put us at a much greater risks for cybercriminals. The Internet Complaint Center (IC3) says that 2020 complaints and dollar losses were the highest since the center began tracking cybercrime statistics in 2000. In 2020 the IC3 received and processed 791,790 complaints, a 69 percent increase from 467,361 in 2019.
While these numbers may seem daunting, we do have some defenses against this type of crimes. Financial institutions, like M&F Bank, rely on various security measures to protect customer data , but there are steps that you can take to keep your information safe as well.
Choose Strong and Unique Passwords
Choosing a password may seem like a pretty self-explanatory task, but it is important that it can stand up to the various methods that cybercriminals may use to steal it. Follow these guidelines when choosing a strong password:
1. Use a password that has 12 characters, minimum.
A 12-character password may seems like a lot to remember, but it’s worth it. The more characters your password contains increases the overall possible combinations of characters by the millions! In theory, this increases the amount of time it takes a hackers to crack your password. Recent guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) advises that password length is much more important that password complexity. Instead of using short, complex passwords, uses passphrases that combine multiple words and are longer than 15 characters. For example, LemonadeHotSummer2021!
2. Make your password unique.
Using the same passwords for your important accounts makes things a whole lot easier for you; and hackers too. If a cybercriminals get a hold of the password for one of your accounts, they could access the other accounts simply by using the same password. This is the real world equivalent of leaving a key under the doormat. If you have trouble remembering multiple passwords, considering using a trusted password manager which protects your data through a process called encryption.
3. When you can, sign up for two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication, is widely used to add a layer of security to your online accounts. A common example of this is using your password to access one of your accounts, and then being asked to enter a code that you received as a text message. Using this type of security would require a hacker to have stolen your password and your phone to access your account. 2FA isn’t 100% foolproof (nothing online is), but most hackers target victims with weak security, not specific people. For this reason, an extra layer of security only works to your benefit.