Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
October 11, 2023

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Five Tips to Avoid Online Scams

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. With the average financial loss caused by an online data breach reaching an all-time global high of $4.45 million in 2023, it’s never been more important for individuals and organizations to take proactive steps to enhance their cybersecurity.* Let’s talk about ways you can stay safer online.

Use strong, unique passwords.

Stolen or compromised credentials were responsible for a whopping 15% of data breaches in 2023, and this type of incident took the longest to resolve — nearly 11 months on average.* Using a strong, unique password is a key step to protecting yourself online. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

Why? Imagine this: A website you use for something fun, like word puzzles, experiences a data breach, and fraudsters gain access to your email and password combination. The next thing they’ll do? Attempt to log in with that combination of credentials on email platforms, social media sites and financial institutions. Limit the damage from data breaches by using strong, unique passwords. Learn more about creating strong passwords.

Double up on security with MFA.

Enable multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA requires more than one method of authentication from independent sources to verify a person’s identity. In other words, it adds a second layer of protection from fraud by requiring an extra step, like a text message confirmation code, before you can log in.

Protect your computer.

Make sure to protect your devices with updated security measures, including keeping the firewall on, using antivirus software and keeping your software updated. It’s easy to forget to keep computer software updated, so in the spirit of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, take the time to do so today. For more details, check out the FBI’s Internet Safety: Protect Your Computer  resource.

Be wary of attachments and links.

Phishing, the top method of online fraud in 2023, targets your personal information by pretending to be an organization or individual you know, like a bank, retailer or medical provider.* Whether it’s an email or a text message from a sender you don’t recognize, use critical thinking about the source before clicking. Don’t open attachments or links in emails or text messages unless you’re certain they’re safe. Links in emails might contain spyware or malware, which can give hackers access to your personal information. When in doubt, verify the information by contacting the supposed sender directly through other means, like calling their company’s main phone number. Learn more about protecting yourself from common online scams.

Report fraud quickly.

Do you think you’ve been the victim of an online crime? File a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) as soon as possible, and let your financial institutions know so they can be extra vigilant when it comes to your accounts.

It’s important to protect yourself online, not only during Cybersecurity Awareness Month but all year long. Learn more about preventing identity theft.

*IBM. Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023. Accessed October 2, 2023.

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