Locally based CPA firm since 1956

At WSM we live by six core values:
• Work hard together
• Be responsive with respect
• Improve yourself every day
• Think innovatively
• Treat people like family
• Do the right thing

This month we want to focus on our core value of thinking innovatively. We hosted a client education event on May 4th on the topic of Personal Cybersecurity. Our goal was to provide innovative solutions to the real problem of protecting our valuable data and personal information. Here is a follow-up on that topic with a summary of some innovative takeaways that you can use.

Innovative Ideas for Personal Cybersecurity

Passwords – We know it is annoying to have thirty different passwords with varying complexities. We also share the pain of having to update passwords on a regular basis. However, your password is the gateway to your information. The more complex it is, the longer it takes for hackers to steal it. For example, the password “abcdefgh” can be cracked instantly by a computer, but the password “Ilovepickles!” would take 434 thousand years*. Also, there are also some great tools available to store and secure multiple passwords just in case you forget them.

Back Up Your Data – Have you ever had a hard drive crash on your PC? Do you have data on your PC or phone that you would hate to lose? I’m sure that most of us do. We can improve the likelihood that we could restore the data if we simply perform regular backups to the cloud or a separate storage device. One current trend has emerged where cyber criminals secretly install ransomware on your PC or device that encrypts your data. In this situation, the criminal will only release your data back to you if you pay the ransom. This is evil, but it happens!

Windows and Antivirus Updates – The ransomware attacks mentioned above often target PCs that have out of date Windows operating systems and antivirus programs. Cybercriminals work 24/7 to find ways to steal information. One of the best defenses is an updated operating system and antivirus program that is constantly identifying and blocking malicious software.

Careful Where You Click – Another trend in cybercrime is to send emails requesting account information (“phishing”) or emails with hyperlinks that open malicious programs, spyware, or ransomware. A simple way to protect yourself is to hover your mouse over the sender’s email address and the hyperlinks to see if they are coming from a legitimate source.

Mobile Device Permissions – We are now living in the day where most of us have internet and email enable mobile devices. These devices use software applications (“apps”) that access or control various features of the device. One way to monitor and control this is to review the permissions granted to these apps and limit any unnecessary access**.

More Innovative Ideas – For more ways to protect yourself from cyber criminals check out the 101 Data Protection Tips: How to Keep Your Passwords, Financial & Personal Information Safe article at www.digitalguardian.com.

We are happy to think innovatively with our clients to improve their personal cybersecurity. Please contact us at 210-684-1071 or email us at info@wsmtexas.com for more information about how we can work with you!

*Password security test from https://howsecureismypassword.net/
**Monitoring your apps permissions at https://mypermissions.org/