Cyber Security Event Recap: 6 Takeaway Tips

 Mike Esson By: Mike Esson

In May 2024, we invited clients and employees for our annual Shred Day event at Plancorp. Protecting the personal information of our clients is a top priority for us, so we were thrilled to enhance the event by adding a Cyber Security Q&A session featuring special guest speakers from Charles Schwab. Together, we addressed  how Plancorp helps safeguard your data as well as key takeaways for how individuals can keep their information safe on their own as well. 

Here are 6 key takeaways:

Protect Your Email

Did you know that more than 75% of focused cyberattacks begin with an email? If you're looking to step up your personal cybersecurity, protecting access to your email is the most impactful thing you can do.

Protect yourself by using strong passwords or passphrases (at least 12 characters long), enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and avoid sharing sensitive data like bank account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), and social security numbers via email. Remember that anything you send is then archived and accessible to someone who learns your password, which is why hackers target emails or engage in phishing..

Utilize Password Managers

Speaking of passwords, cybersecurity professionals are now recommending the use of unique passwords, not just a complex password that you use for everything. But the reality is having multiple passwords for different accounts can be challenging to remember which causes many individuals to end up using the same password across various sites. Password managers like 1Password, LastPass, or Nordpass provide a convenient and secure solution to storing all your passwords in one place, meaning you only need to remember one password that will then fill in passwords on your behalf in an encrypted manner. They can also help identify if you’re reusing passwords, alert you of any known breaches, and are compatible across different devices, allowing for easy use on all your devices. 

Bonus, these systems often allow family plans where you can allow for securely sharing passwords and even setting up password sharing as a component of your estate wishes. 

Set Up ChexSystems

ChexSystems, operating under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), helps clients mitigate risks when opening new accounts, requiring approval for bank accounts, credit accounts, and loans. It's important to know that freezing your credit through the major bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) helps prevent new credit accounts from being opened in your name, but that protection does not extend to checking or debit accounts which can pose just as much of a threat to your credit score and data protection.

Additionally, they provide disclosure reports, identity theft and fraud protection, as well as financial education to safeguard your financial well-being.

Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi can easily be found in places like coffee shops, stores, hotels, and airports. However, most public Wi-Fi networks are unsecure and can be accessed without any security measures like passwords or logins. While it may be tempting to connect to these networks, it’s important to consider the risks involved, such as identity theft, stolen passwords and personal information, phishing attacks and malware put on your devices. It is complex to set up, but a bad actor can tap into devices on the shared network to track your activities or view personal information. 

Here's a solution: Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are encrypted network connections you can use through a public network to encrypt your data and making it difficult for hackers to gain access. While this may not be needed for everyone, it’s important to do your due diligence before selecting a VPN provider.

Optimize Custodian Access

Did you know you can customize access to your custodian account at Schwab? You can limit who is authorized to trade to minimize any chance that a fraudster is able to mismanage your investments. You can work with your Wealth Manager or directly through Schwab Alliance to customize who is authorized to make trades on your behalf. Also recall that assets invested at Schwab are protected by their personal guarantee against fraudulent access.

Be Vigilant

Stay alert and wary of phishing emails, phone calls, texts, or any requests for personal or financial information. We recently did a deep dive on a new scam known as 'pig butchering' which exploits the tendency for people to be less vigilant in text messages as well as friendships to gain personal information or convince people to make entrapping investments.

As always, approach emails with skepticism and be careful when clicking links or opening attachments. If something looks fishy, confirm it's legitimacy with the purported sender before opening anything or following directions, especially if there is a sense of urgency.

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At Plancorp, we prioritize your security with a strong cybersecurity program that includes strict access controls, data encryption, and partnerships with top-tier providers. It is important to reach out to your wealth manager if you suspect any suspicious activity. While it’s unfortunate that we must be so diligent in safeguarding our information, the peace of mind knowing our data is secure is well worth the effort.

As Plancorp's Chief Information Security Officer, Mike oversees the integrations, efficiencies and security of our internal processes. He draws on years of experiences in sales, operations, compliance, technology, cyber security, and data protection to optimize our workflows and safeguard our data. He works closely with other teams and resources to manage diverse projects and implement ongoing strategies. When he is not working, he loves spending time with family and friends. He is an outdoor enthusiast and a handyman who loves to create and repair things in his spare time. More »