Simple Security Measures to Protect Your Data

Imagine a world without email.  It is nearly impossible.  Despite its relatively recent inception – email did not become widely available and adopted until the late 1990’s – email is now a ubiquitous part of our daily routine.  The information we receive via email is generally important and useful – banking updates, billing statements, shipment status notifications, just to name a few.  Email can also be a source of great pleasure as it helps us easily communicate with close family and cherished friends.  But, as we have all come to learn, not every email that arrives in our in-box is sent with the best of intentions. Whether managing correspondence for your small business or for personal use, it is imperative to be vigilant when it comes to your email. By following a few simple steps, you can learn to quickly spot those emails whose sender has nefarious intent and protect your personal and business data.

The Devil is in the Details:  A misplaced company logo, the addition of an extra letter or character in the return email address, failure to provide complete contact information – these are some of the tell-tale signs that an email might be fraudulent.  In 2019, Security Magazine reported that more than three billion fake emails are sent globally on a daily basis.  That number is expected to increase in 2020 particularly as more business and personal transactions are conducted online due to COVID-19.  One must have a keen eye on the correspondence you receive and do not take anything at face value.  When you receive an email communication from a service provider, cross check it with previous correspondence that you know to be valid.  If you notice irregularities, do not reply to the suspicious email. Rather, reach out to your provider directly – ideally via phone or their official website – so that you can receive account updates straight from the source and determine if the suspicious email is truly on the up and up. 

Know Your Partners:  When you initiate a relationship with a service provider, you should immediately begin to familiarize yourself with their communication cadence and style.  Reputable businesses are very clear to set up stringent security protocols and check points that give you confidence that your exchanges with them are protected.  Therefore, when you receive a request that seems out of character from one of your trusted providers your alarm bell should sound.  For example, it is highly unusual for service providers to send messages with a threatening tone i.e. “if you do not reply to this email or click the link below your account will be suspended.”  Furthermore, reputable businesses do not ask you to provide personal data – account numbers, social security or banking information – by replying to their note.  If you receive such a request, call your service provider or go to their official website and log into your account for accurate information and status updates.

Set Up Your Strongest Defense:  Setting up a strong password is vital to protecting your business and personal accounts.  While this is not a revolutionary idea, it is one of the most powerful tools in combatting hackers and cyber-criminals, so it bears repeating. Select a password that incorporates upper- and lower-case letters, symbols and numbers.  Information that could be readily accessible to a hacker, such as your birthday, address or pet’s name, should be avoided as potential password content.  Setting up a strong password is a simple but powerful step in protecting your business and personal information.

Keeping security best practices top-of-mind can make the difference in protecting your personal and business data.   When you partner with NorthState, you can be certain that preserving the integrity your personal and business data is at the top of our priority list.  Together, we are a powerful team.