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3 Simple Ways to Prevent Hackers from Spending Your Hard Earned Cash

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Jeff Cuellar

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Do you work hard for your money? Stupid question I know. I mean, Singaporeans work the longest working hours among the world’s developed countries after all. If anything, you probably work too hard for your money.

That being said, there are plenty of dangers out there that can part you from your money faster than gold-digger with a taste for LV bags. And aside from emotional and wasteful spending habits, one of the biggest threats to your savings comes from hackers.

In fact, according to a Straits Times report late last year, Singaporeans lost $1.25 billion to cybercrime – the highest per capita in the world.

So how can you protect yourself against hackers?

Here are 3 simple steps you can take to prevent hackers from spending your hard earned cash:

 

#1 Create a Challenging Username AND Password

The problem is that many of us have usernames and passwords that are too damn easy to break! What’s worse – many of us use the same username and password for multiple accounts (online retailers, credit card payment page, etc.), which multiplies the danger to your savings.

As painful as it might be, create a different username/password for every account.

If you have a name (especially your name!), 123, abc, or have a slang word in your password – you’re just begging to be hacked.

Here’s a list of the most hacked passwords.

A challenging username and password must have the following:

  • Your password/username must have at least 8 characters in length
  • Your password/username must contain a mix of character types including – upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and “special” characters (ex. $, #, @, etc.)
  • Your password/username should not contain a name, slang words, or any word in the dictionary for that matter (I’m serious!)

I know, that means the days of having an easy to remember password are gone right? Well, not exactly. See, you can create a stronger password by just taking a sentence and turning it into a password.

For example: I love to play baseball = Iluv2Plyb@s3BAL!

It’s a hassle going from a password that’s ah, “password” to Iluv2Plyb@s3BAL!, but it just might save you from a good hacking.

 

#2 Keep an Eye on Your Login Sessions

Thankfully, many of your social media and email accounts enable you to check up on all of your login sessions. For most of your accounts, you can check the login history by going to “settings.”

Sometimes, you’ll also be able to set login notifications or approvals to add further security to your accounts.

Check your login sessions periodically – because it just might give you early warning that someone’s snooping around your account.

When you check your login sessions, make sure you pay close attention to the IP address and location of the login. If you notice a log in from say… Guangzhou, China and you don’t have the mutant ability to teleport – it’s a sign that you should change your password FAST!

Although this tip isn’t closely related to your login sessions, remember that you should never add someone to your social media accounts unless you personally know them.

The reason is because the account might be created just so that cybercriminals can have access to the personal information on your profile.

 

#3 Delete any Suspicious Emails

The amount of emails most of us delete daily is ridiculous, but for the most part, we’re pretty good at spotting and deleting suspicious emails from people or companies we don’t know.

However, the problems start when the suspicious emails you receive start looking like actual correspondence from your bank, the government, an online retailer, or even a relative.

When you receive emails that look official but are asking you for money, account information, or personal information that the email sender should already have – you’re being targeted with a “phishing” scam.

If you’re unsure about what could be considered a “suspicious” just remember that if it asks the following, delete it immediately:

  • The email asks you to confirm your bank account/credit card number
  • The email asks you to confirm personal information (DOB, address, phone, etc.)
  • The email asks you to long-in to your account and provides a “link” for you to do so

If you encounter such an email, DO NOT click on any links or contact any numbers within the email. Instead, call up the organization sending the email directly to notify it about the email and confirm the phishing attack.

 

Bonus: Have Antivirus Software and KEEP IT UP TO DATE!

While the simple tips above will prevent many of the wallet-draining tactics hackers use to steal your hard earned money, there’s one other thing you MUST have – antivirus software.

The websites you visit (don’t worry, I’m not going to ask), the files you download, and the security vulnerabilities of your operating systems all put you at risk for some pretty nasty computer viruses and malware.

Granted, anti-virus software isn’t perfect, but it’ll be able to identify and block most threats you’ll run into while surfing online. Plus, an antivirus will give you warnings about what sites are known to be breeding grounds for viruses and malware.

According to PC Magazine, these are the best antivirus programs available:

You don’t have to pay $50-$100+ for antivirus software. Instead, you can just download AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 without having to pay a single cent.

 

Final Note: Hacking is a problem that’ll only get worse – not just in Singapore, but all across the Asia-Pacific region in the future. If you read our article on cybersecurity, you’ll see that the problem is serious enough to prompt private and public organizations in Singapore to invest more in cybersecurity.

While there’s not much you can do if your data gets hacked at the company level, following the steps above will be enough to prevent hacking in most cases. Some defense is better than none yes?

 

Have you ever been the victim of identity theft or a hacking attack? Share your experience with us on Facebook! For even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.