A Note to Our Clients About Cybersecurity

Whether due to the geopolitical conflict or just a sign of the times, cyber-experts worldwide are recommending enhanced caution around individuals’ cyber-presence.  At The Colony Group, we want to offer a few tips so that you can avoid falling prey to cyber-criminals and keep your data and identity safe.

  1. Be wary of all links.

Cyber-criminals regularly are getting access to email and other accounts as a result of successful phishing by email or text message.  These phishers use anything they can — including trusted names and branding from companies like FedEx, Amazon, or Microsoft — to lure you into clicking a link that “opens a door” into your email, phone, and/or computer.  Once there, they often will lie in wait, collecting all manner of data that they intend to exploit at later dates.  If it sounds ominous, that’s because it is.  So, we are intentionally suggesting that you be wary of all links.  It is always better to go to the original source of the message to verify the information than to click on a potentially harmful link.  For example, log directly into your Amazon account to track that package.  Call your advisor or accountant to verify that they actually sent you that email or text.  Slowing down and putting a little extra time into your cyber-safety will save you the hours and anxiety that a successful phishing ploy is bound to cost.

  1. Use multi-factor authentication for all online access.

If multi-factor authentication is available, please use it!  Also known as dual-factor authentication, this security feature typically sends you a “push” or a one-time code on your mobile phone as an extra layer of security to verify that it’s really you attempting to log into an account. It is a highly effective means of protecting against unauthorized access, as a cyber-criminal who may have stolen your account login and password is unlikely to also have your mobile phone in hand.

  1. Use a password manager.

You probably have hundreds of passwords, making it impossible to remember them all unless you utilize the same, sometimes weak, password for multiple sites.   Cyber-criminals take advantage of repeated passwords to infiltrate multiple accounts and data sources.  A password manager – sometimes referred to as a password vault — is a cybersecurity tool that helps you create, store, and manage all of your login credentials. The tool can be used to generate strong, unique passwords for all your web access points, and they are stored in a centralized location and encrypted with one master password.  Password managers require a bit of a learning curve, but they are well worth it for the added security and centralization of credentials!  There are multiple options out there, such as Dashlane, LastPass, or Keeper, depending on what features you need.

  1. Watch out for vishing!

Vishing is short for “voice phishing,” and it is becoming an increasingly common way of fraudulently inducing individuals to provide account names, passwords, and other private data.  Cyber-criminals use phone calls or voicemails, pretending to be a reputable contact, to convince you to divulge sensitive information.  Never provide account numbers, passwords, or personal data to someone calling you randomly over the phone.  If you think the call might be legitimate, then hang up and call back on a number you know to be trustworthy.  If it is an authentic call, the caller will not mind you taking the extra time to authenticate their identity.  In fact, they should thank you for it!

Finally, please remember that your Colony Group team members will not call or email you to ask for access information into your accounts. However, in the unfortunate circumstance where you find your data or accounts compromised by a cyber-criminal, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Colony Group advisor. We have established relationships with experts in cybersecurity remediation and personal data security to not only help you through a breach but can help you guard against further intrusion. If you would like to know more about these relationships, please ask your advisor about our Curated by Colony program.