Financial Cybersecurity: 3 Tips to Stay Safe

While accessing financial information, it’s essential to practice and implement cybersecurity measures, especially while owning a small business. Using financial apps, distributing invoices, and paying bills could leave you vulnerable to cybercriminals who might be looking for financial gain (including using your name and business credentials to get there). In a 2018 study by The Harris Poll, nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft. Since October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re providing some tips to help protect you and your company’s data.

#1 – Connect to a Private Network

Almost every public location has a free Wi-Fi network that users can connect their devices to. What most people don’t think about is how safe that network is. If you plan on working remotely or travel a lot for work, network safety should be your top priority. Did you know any data transmitted while you’re online could be seen by strangers who are connected to the same network? This is where a virtual private network (VPN) swoops in to save the day.

What is a VPN? This private network provides encryption and anonymity during your online sessions. VPNs create a data tunnel between the local network and an exit node based in a separate location. They can also hide your devices, streaming location, IP address, and browsing history. If working and accessing private information is a part of your daily life, using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect you and your data.

This private network can be implemented on all of your connected devices. This includes tablets, phones, laptops, etc. If you’re a small business owner, make sure you have measures in place, so your remote workers and anyone who has a company device is equipped with a VPN. Connect with your employees regularly to educate them on why this is important and how to properly use the software.

Remember to keep your family members safe while connected to the Internet. For example, online shopping can be a dangerous activity if you aren’t paying attention closely. Make sure you know the business you’re giving financial information to, always read reviews, browse social media for any signs of suspicious behavior, and try only to use a credit card when making online purchases. Using a credit card will give you the best liability protection because most credit card companies offer $0 liability for any fraudulent charges.

Try to shop while using a VPN or under the safety of your own home network to avoid any cybercriminals looking to steal credit card information, birthdays, names, addresses, etc.

#2 – Use Multifactor Authentication

While logging into any financial apps or emails, a private credential is required, but you should also be using multifactor authentication. Not only does this add an extra layer of security to your account, but it can help stop a cybercriminal from actually gaining access to your personal or business accounts.

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By receiving a text or email, you will have to approve the login with a short code. This is one of the safest ways to protect your accounts because it is likely that strangers could find out your credentials but might not be able to figure out your one-time access code. Implement multifactor authentication company-wide, so your employees feel their email accounts are protected and safe.

#3 – Check Bank Accounts Regularly

Although it might be easy to ignore bank statements or only check your bank account when a paycheck is deposited, it’s important always to keep tabs on your account activity. While balancing your checkbook is a thing of the past, you can still implement the same practice by using simple math to make sure your receipts add up to what is shown in your account. Be sure to include monthly bills, paychecks, and any other incoming or outgoing money.

While business owners often have a financial team to cover this task, it’s never a bad idea to double-check them yourself. If anything looks suspicious or doesn’t add up, be sure to contact your bank to let them know what you’re seeing is wrong. Working with the bank is the only way to resolve any fraudulent charges on your accounts. Although there are several steps to take when becoming a victim of identity theft, talking to a representative at your bank or credit card provider is the ultimate step into resolving the issue. Here are some other tips to help avoid identity theft:

  • Be aware of phishing scams sent to your email or text messages sent to your phone. Just opening one email from an unknown sender can leave your device riddled with viruses and malware. Always delete the emails and report them as spam if they aren’t already appropriately marked.
  • Watch out for how much information you input into any websites, including retail shopping, financial accounts, and more. No online store should ever be asking for your social security number or any other personal financial details beyond a payment method.
  • Pay attention to certain websites and how they are labeled. If the URL begins with a picture of a closed lock as well as https (hypertext transfer protocol secure), then you know the website has privacy protection and will keep your information safe.

Did you know in 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received nearly 300,000 online-theft complaints? The victims lost a total of $1.3 billion. By using caution with your financial and personal information, cybercriminals will have a tougher time accessing your data.

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