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Mobile device and Wi-Fi security to ensure protection

Date posted:  11/19/15 07:15:00 AM Ensure optimal security for your financial information by understanding Wi-Fi and device protection.

Cyber security has become a significant concern in recent years as dependence on the Internet increases and individuals begin completing financial tasks online.

It is crucial that individuals who manage their wealth online take the proper precautions to reduce their risk of unauthorized access through a a Wi-Fi network  or mobile device, which can potentially be used to collect personal information.

"Fortifying a network requires specific security protection."

While having a smartphone or tablet to conveniently view your financial portfolio is a welcome convenience, it also creates an opportunity for sensitive financial data to be exposed. 

Consider these tips to best protect your information:

Keep information and devices protected
When running a Wi-Fi network at home or at a business, creating a secure wireless connection is crucial. Fortifying a network requires specific security protection, noted the Wi-Fi Alliance. The old standard is wired equivalent privacy, or WEP, which might be capable of stopping some data theft, but can be too simple to hack. Wireless protected access, or WPA, security offers additional protection, but WPA2 is the strongest and most trusted.

If a Wi-Fi device was sold after 2006, it will typically support WPA2. Individuals with older devices should upgrade their security from WEP or WPA to WPA2 to ensure they have the most effective protection.

When traveling abroad, use a virtual private network, or VPN, service. This will help ensure improved privacy while overseas, according to Travel + Leisure. It might also be valuable to purchase a data plan as an additional protective measure. If an individual decides to use a hot spot, he or she must make sure the network is legitimate and encrypted. Do not hesitate to check with the restaurant or coffee shop to ensure the name of the network is correct. 

Create a unique, lengthy password
According to the Gfi blog, a resource for IT enthusiasts, creating a strong and complex password is one of the first steps users can take for Wi-Fi protection. 

It may also be worthwhile for individuals to regularly change their password. Remember to include various numbers, characters and a variety of upper and lowercase letters to strengthen passwords. If a high net worth individual regularly checks his or her financial statements throughout the day, a strong password is a critical component to ensure protection each time he or she logs in, whether it's from a smartphone or on a public Wi-Fi connection.

"Keeping all personal devices secure is paramount."

Consider going private
Another way to improve the security of a wireless network is by operating in anonymity. Not allowing the transmission of a service set identifier, or SSID, strengthens protection as mobile users will not be able to see a hidden network.

Protect all devices
In addition to ensuring a wireless connection is secure, especially while managing finances, checking investments and discussing assets with financial advisers, keeping all personal devices secure is paramount.

If a laptop, tablet or smartphone ends up in the wrong hands, personal financial information can be accessed and an individual's data compromised.

Commonly-used devices are especially popular targets for criminals, according to PC World.

"Five years ago, the vulnerabilities were Microsoft-based and targeting PCs," said Joe Nocera, an information ad security expert, according to PC World. "Apple tended not to be targeted so often. But, in the last year and a half or so, we're seeing a shift. More and more often we're seeing either Android- or iPhone-based vulnerabilities being targeted. We predict that by 2014 you'll see those types of vulnerabilities being the most targeted as more and more users go to those mobile devices."

The Department of Communications indicated using the security features on a mobile device is one way to reduce the risk of having financial information compromised. Individuals should create a password or PIN to access a locked device.

It may be tempting to save passwords or PINs on a mobile device because they are used so often. However, if personal information can be easily accessed it can be detrimental.

Be wary of application use
While apps on a mobile device can be especially convenient for checking stocks, communicating with an investment advisor or looking up bank statements, it is important to know whether the apps are safe and secure.

According to the Department of Communications, apps collect data from a device and can transmit this personal information. Individuals can and should control what information the app accesses when they install new apps.

In addition, individuals should be careful when downloading new apps. Trust the developer before doing so. Read reviews and all user comments as a gauge to see if anyone has had issues.

Update all devices
When an update is announced, individuals should make sure they install it immediately. 

"Almost every release of software patches a number of security vulnerabilities that are out there," noted Nocera.

The battle against cyber criminals starts by understanding how to best protect mobile devices and available Wi-Fi networks.