Eliminating security risks in a mobile world

John Baker

As cybercrime threats continue to make headlines, now is a good time to look at digital loopholes that can create vulnerabilities for identity theft and fraud, and what you can do to protect yourself.

As one of the largest community banks in the Pacific Northwest, Columbia Bank understands the importance of trust between customers and bankers. Therefore, we work to build confidence and advocacy, to keep our costumers feeling satisfied and secure.

While our country implements new technology measures and precautions against major acts of cybercrime, there are changes you can make on a personal level to protect yourself today. At the most basic level, we can begin with your mobile device.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make on a daily basis is not taking advantage of the lock feature on smartphones, tablets or laptops. Devices that are not password-protected essentially provide carte blanche access to your email account and social networks, which can allow hackers to easily gain personal information needed to conduct identity theft.

For example, a stolen, unlocked mobile phone provides the intruder with access to your email inbox, social networks and other storage apps like Dropbox. Let’s assume the intruder gains access to your Facebook account, and deciphers your mother’s maiden name. From there, he or she potentially becomes armed with the resources that may make it easier to impersonate or steal your identity.

Here are some tips we recommend for shielding private information, whether you are an existing mobile user or beginning your mobile venture.

Top 10 mobile security precautions:

  1. Lock and password-protect your phone.
  2. Open a separate bank account with a separate debit card for online transactions. Keep a limited amount of funds in this account so your entire balance is not exposed. Transfer funds when needed for a purchase.
  3. Track your transactions in online banking regularly.
  4. Set alerts to notify you of major fluctuations in your balance or when only large transactions take place.
  5. Be sure to close mobile applications on your device.
  6. Create a complex password for whichever platform you are using (web, phone or tablet) and don’t keep it saved digitally – commit it to memory. I recommend developing a combination of personal memories, milestones or dates because these are typically easier to remember.
  7. Don’t access your bank account from a public Wi-Fi network.
  8. Be wary of unrecognized apps and websites that may lead to viruses.
  9. Check your credit score on a regular basis.
  10. Download a reliable app to locate your device if lost, and report lost or stolen devices to your bank and wireless provider immediately.

With the dramatic increase in smartphone usage, it’s evident that mobile banking is here to stay. In order to stay on top of these changes, we suggest choosing a bank that you trust and that values the number one concern above all else – you.

John Baker is SVP, CCM, Treasury Management Sales Manager at Columbia Bank. For more information about Columbia Bank, visit www.ColumbiaBank.com.

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