How often do you read warnings about cybersecurity, scams, or identity theft? Between news reports, your computer security alerts, or company emails, it’s possible to get several alerts daily. Dealing with security questions and multifactor authentication can feel burdensome, especially when they make simple tasks harder.
Have you ever ignored a prompt to reset a login to make it more secure? Changing your password into a cryptic code can be a real headache when you want to log into your bank account. However, finding out that hackers have compromised your information can cause a full-on migraine.
A new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that most computer users feel overwhelmed by security warnings and rules1. They get tired of being on constant alert, and they begin to make risky decisions, like using weak passwords or clicking on suspicious links. The researchers call this “security fatigue.” It’s a state of mind where people are so tired of security that they start to let their guard down.
In the early days of identity theft, there were concerns about scam artists running up your credit cards. But lately, that’s the least of your worries. Cybercrime tactics are more sophisticated than ever and designed to trick victims as opposed to hacking systems.
Here are some financial costs that could sneak up on you.
Financial fraud often involves credit cards opened without permission or extravagant purchases in different states. We often consider the tangible money that could be lost, but your time is equally precious. If someone steals your account information, you may have to spend hours on the phone with your bank and credit card companies.
Or, you might have to hire an expert to clean up the mess if your computer is infected with malware. And if the attack prevents you from working, you could lose income.
But the financial consequences aren’t the only thing to worry about. Cyberattacks can also damage your reputation and cause a lot of stress and anxiety. As frustrating as the security precautions are, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.
So, what you can do right now?
Here are a few low-effort, high-impact ways to boost your personal cybersecurity:
- Open your mail and carefully read it (even the junk mail). Run your credit report annually, or even better yet, freeze your credit. Although it may seem overwhelming, you can request this for free from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion either online or over the phone.
- Get skeptical. Be wary of unexpected voice calls or messages and always verify the identity of callers before sharing any sensitive information.
- Commit to using a password manager. Hackers have advanced tools, so it’s important to use strong passwords to protect your financial data. Avoid using the same password and consider using a reputable password manager as well as two-factor authentication as extra security.
For a lot of people, it’s not if but when they’ll be victims of some sort of online fraud. Having a financial team in your corner can make a real difference. When you have a clear picture of what assets and liabilities you have, it can be easier to spot suspicious activity. Also, be mindful of how you share your personal information with other professionals. Make sure they also have systems in place, like encrypted email or secure file sharing.
It’s normal to become desensitized to cybersecurity warnings. Unfortunately, hackers are benefiting from the collective fatigue. That’s why having these conversations can keep you engaged. If you’re looking for a financial advocate to help you navigate these complexities in your financial life, let’s talk.
Sources: ‘Security Fatigue’ Can Cause Computer Users to Feel Hopeless and Act Recklessly, nist.gov/news-events/news/2016/10/security-fatigue-can-cause-computer-users-feel-hopeless-and-act-recklessly
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA / SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Bend Wealth Advisors is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Any opinions are those of Stuart Malakoff and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.