This content is for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. Every effort has been made to ensure the information is correct and up to date at the time of writing. For personalised and regulated advice regarding your situation, please consult an independent financial adviser here at Smith & Pinching in Norwich, Lowestoft and Eaton.
Around 90% of UK adults claim that they have come across fraudulent or scam content online. Nearly half admitted to being drawn in by an online scam, with one-quarter reporting that they had lost money. 21% of Ofcom survey respondents said they had lost £1,000 or more.
It is not just scams that can catch people out, however. Cyber attacks – the deliberate targeting of your computer, smartphone or other internet-enabled devices – are also a problem. In 2022, victims per million internet users stood at 4783; up by 40% since 2020.
With the rapid change of technology in 2023, it can be difficult to keep up with the tactics used by scammers. Yet it is vital to be armed with the best possible defences to protect your finances and wealth – especially given scammers’ tendency to target elderly people’s life savings.
Below, we offer a short guide to protecting your money from cyber attacks. If you want to discuss your strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation financial consultation:
What do cyber attacks “look like”?
Cyber attacks take many forms and are constantly evolving. Yet the primary target of attackers is almost always the same – data. The intention is to destroy data or use it for malicious purposes such as to impersonate or blackmail someone.
Many people can be the target of a cyber attack. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable since owners typically invest less in IT security and staff training which could protect them.
Yet older people can also be a target due to a lack of tech savviness. They may be more willing to trust strangers who claim to want to help them. Or, they may have cognitive impairments which hamper their judgement of threats.
A cyber attack can be devastating. The average cost of a data breach to a business is £15,300, for instance. Yet the good news is that there is much you can do to protect yourself – and your finances – from such threats.
Passwords and 2-factor authentication
We all know that a strong password is crucial to protecting your bank account, investment account and other sensitive logins. Yet many people do not follow good practice, leaving them exposed to cyber attacks.
Firstly, use different passwords for your various accounts. If a scammer breaches one of them, then the rest are not also compromised. Consider changing your passwords regularly and avoid using codes which are easy to guess with a bit of digging (e.g. your spouse’s birthday). If you struggle to remember passwords, consider using a trusted password vault.
Secondly, enable 2-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. This requires the user to provide an extra layer of information when logging into a sensitive account, such as online banking. For instance, a one-time code sent to a mobile device.
Be careful to have a secure backup procedure in place, in case you lose your 2FA device (e.g. your smartphone). Also, consider using an app-based 2FA, such as Google Authenticator, rather than SMS-based security. The latter is widely deemed to be less secure than the former.
Internet good practice
Since cyber attacks require their targets’ devices to be connected to the internet, it is worth following safe online practice to minimise your exposure to threats. Be careful about connecting to public WiFi, such as in a cafe, since many of these networks are “open” – allowing for the easy interception of data, like user login information. Using your mobile data may be safer.
A VPN (virtual private network) can also be a powerful protective shield when browsing online. This encrypts all of your internet traffic and hides your IP address, making it very difficult for someone to track your data and seize it.
Watch out for suspicious emails, text messages or social media messages which contain links. By clicking on them, you could be directed to a fraudulent website which seeks to steal your login information or plant a virus on your device.
If you get an email claiming to be from your bank, for instance, then type the official URL (website address) directly into your browser and try to find the relevant information from there. Make sure that any websites you visit have the “HTTPS” prefix too, which offers better protection of information sent between you (the client) and the website (the server).
Regarding your devices, make sure that all security software is kept up to date – helping to protect against new cyber threats. Monitor your bank account(s) to keep an eye out for suspicious activity consider making regular data backups (e.g. to an external USB which is kept in a safe) in case your security measures fail. Keep your mobile device secure using a PIN or biometric information, enabling remote tracking/wiping in case it is ever stolen.
If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or investment strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-commitment financial consultation at our expense: