1. Turn on two-factor authentication
Having a strong password is important, but you can add an extra layer of protection by signing up for two-factor authentication. Many email providers, subscription services and financial firms have it available. It simply involves sending a one-time-use code - via text or phone call - that you'll use with your password to log in to your account. Even if your password is discovered, hackers likely won't have your phone to get the other piece of the login puzzle.
2. Be careful of info you share on social media
Even with the strictest privacy settings engaged on your social media accounts, the reality is you can't control what people do with the information they see. Once you put anything personal or private online, you're risking that it will be made public.
Never post copies of your ID, no matter how excited you are to get a driver's license or passport, and be careful sharing images that may give away personal details like a home address or bank account or credit card number. And if you don't want the world to know your house is standing empty while you're using that passport for two weeks, at least wait until you get home to post images and brag about your amazing getaway.
3. Install security updates, update computer software and firmware
The criminal life must be a grind, as it seems there is no shortage of new ways for hackers to infiltrate systems. Talk about innovation. While the bad guys never seem to take a break, the good news is that neither do the good guys. So, show them some love by putting their hard work to use. Install the latest security updates and keep your software and firmware updated, too, to ensure your system is equipped with all the latest patches and defenses.
4. Use strong, unique passwords
Whenever setting up online account access, you'll need to come equipped with a strong password that you'll be able to remember. It should be complex and unique, as using the same password for multiple accounts means that if just one is compromised, hackers could gain access to the whole lot and complicate matters even more.
Security experts recommend longer passwords, such as 12 characters in length, and using a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. One tip is to think of a phrase that is easy to remember, such as "I need my coffee at 9 a.m.," which could translate to a password of "!n3EdmiC0fy@9."
And of course, never write down passwords or PINs, and never share them over text, email, or messaging apps, as such digital communications have potential to be intercepted.
5. Use a password manager
Password fatigue is a real thing, so if keeping track of an endless stream of passwords has you ready to use "password1" in all instances, consider getting some help. Online password managers can store all of your passwords, and you just need to remember one master code word to gain access. Reputable services like 1Password, Dashlane, and LastPass can ease the management of your digital life for a nominal monthly fee.
Any time you believe your password, account or information with any organization has been compromised, change your password immediately and report the incident. At Washington Trust Bank, call our Priority Service team at 800.788.4578 to report fraud or security issues.