In 2022, we’re now very used to having many of life’s conveniences online — from shopping for groceries to scheduling dental appointments. But every time we go online, visiting websites and clicking links, we could be opening ourselves up to risk of cybercrime or a crime from a criminal who finds us online.
National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed each October to promote the importance of staying safe and secure when you or a family member go online. Cybersecurity — something that didn’t exist 50 years ago — has become a modern-day necessity and this month is the perfect time to make sure you’re doing your part to stay safe online.
Coffee, Cream and Room for Crime
Experts consider most home networks to be “zero trust” networks — or about as secure as a coffee shop’s public WiFi.
But the risks to you, your home, your family and your finances are substantial. If a hacker breaks into your home network, they could use information they find to breach your work computers, disrupt your home devices, hack into your bank accounts or steal your identity. That’s some pretty serious stuff.
Ways to Observe National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
- Change your passwords and make them unique — Whenever we go online, we need a password for just about everything. NOBODY likes having to track all of those passwords, but they are an open door to your home or bank account in this cyber-connected world and it’s important to use unique and difficult to crack passwords, and to change them often. Today is a good day to change your passwords. When creating your next password, go with the longest password or phrase possible, experts advise. If this is a task you dread, try using a password manager app to help you keep passwords organized and accessible.
- Run antivirus scans — Schedule time this month to run antivirus scans on all of your devices, including your personal phones. It’s something we don’t think about doing very often, but it’s really important and should be considered a first line of home defense (and be sure to check your family's phones, too).
- Use multi-factor authentication — This is the process where a site (such as Netflix or your bank) will email, text or call you with a code to enter when you log on to their website, and they may also require a biometric such as a fingerprint or iris scan. This helps ensure it’s you in possession of the laptop or phone being used to enter data. Each site that has this option should prompt you to use it or to set it up.
- Be careful what you post online — The content you or your family members post online is “forever” even if you think it’s deleted. Few of us would post something such as, “We’ll be gone for two weeks in Hawaii, nobody here at the house,” but we do give a lot away in seemingly innocuous posts like, “Can’t believe only four days left in Hawaii.” Hackers can use information you post online to generate lists of passwords and start probing your accounts or work email with possible passwords. Be sure not to reveal personal information such as your date of birth, Social Security Number, or passport number to anyone you don’t know. Even those games you play on social media outlets could give away key information you use for passwords.
- Learn to spot suspicious emails — Some phishing emails have legitimate-looking logos and letterheads but are fakes. Be sure to check the sender’s email address, look for typos and poor grammar, and be suspicious of any message claiming a sense of urgency.
Use Your Digital Vault for Important Documents
When you become an AAFMAA Member as an added benefit of working with AMS, you gain access to your own free “Digital Vault.”
The Digital Vault is a secure, encrypted way to store your important documents online where you can access them at any time 24/7, no matter where you are. Upload your mortgage documents, DD Form 214, photo copies of your passport or driver’s license — all of your important information stored safely in one place.
AAFMAA’s Digital Vault is just one way we can help you stay cyber safe!
Don’t Let Your Guard Down Online
Cyber criminals work all year, and they will be especially busy during the holiday season. Be sure to set aside some time to change your passwords and talk to your family about staying safe online.
We’re Here to Help
Whether you’re just thinking about buying, ready to start home-shopping in earnest, or considering a refinance, an AMS Military Mortgage Advisor will be happy to provide you with an honest and fair comparison of your mortgage options, including a wide range of affordable mortgages designed to meet your needs.
Ensuring AAFMAA Members obtain the best mortgage possible is our mission. Get your free mortgage assessment today or give us a call at 844-422-3622.