Online trading is on the rise as many consumers take control of their own investments or work with brokers virtually rather than in person or over the phone. At the same time, cybersecurity attacks are on the rise as hackers also try to take advantage of gaps in the system, stealing identities and even money.
How do you keep yourself safe when trading online? Here are six simple tips:
Check the Doors and Windows
Before trading online, know that the most important thing is awareness. Be aware of what risks you run by trading online and what might happen. In your home, you check doors and windows before going to bed because you know they are potential entry points; you need to understand the same thing about online trading.
How do you recognize a threat and combat it or prevent it in the first place? One of the keys is good security software and setting up automatic alerts. Of course, once you receive an alert, you need to know what actions to take, and software can help with that as well. Secure your online trading accounts and all of the data associated with them by securing any potential entry points. As well, it’s never a bad idea to regularly back-up your data either through physical offsite or cloud-based storage. Should the integrity of your systems be compromised due to a breach, you’ll still have access to your data.
None Shall Pass
For a moment, let’s talk passwords, one of the entry points mentioned above. Truth is, as much as we talk about passwords, the list of the top awful ones every year is astounding, including things like your birthday, 123456, and even the word “password” used as a password.
There is no reason for this in an age of password vaults and generators that not only help you set your password, but remembers them for you as well and can even remind you to change them. Consider using such a password management system, and guard your passwords carefully. All of the fancy firewalls and protection in the world do no good if your password is easy to guess.
Do you know what two-factor authentication is and how to use it? Most apps, even those for social media, offer this now, and bank and trading apps are no exception. When you log in from a new device, you will need not only your password, but you will need to have access to a device you own.
This can be everything from your tablet, your phone, your smartwatch, or at the minimum access to your primary email. A code will be sent to that device or email that you must enter in order to access your account. This is a great second layer of security — one that is free.
That way, even with your password, a hacker cannot breach your account.
Don’t Let Them In
What happened in the quite public cyberattacks on Home Depot and Target? Both retailers had the same problem, in that they had granted access to their systems to vendors and did not shut off that access when the vendor was done working.
This is a common insider threat. The key is that you do not give access to your trading account to any app or person who does not need it. If you do give someone, like your accountant, access at tax time, or even programs like TurboTax or H&R Block, change the password and remove their access once they no longer need it.
Just as you control your own password, you need to control the password and access of others who can control your account. Also, in many cases, you can set up roles and determine what exactly that person can do with your trading accounts. Understand this, and limit actions to ones they actually need.
What’s in Your Wallet?
More common than ever before, trading in cryptocurrency is on the rise. However, there is an issue that is often not addressed. While the blockchain is very secure and easily encrypted, often the weak point for traders is their virtual wallet. Much like cash, when cryptocurrency is stolen, it is hard to track down and get returned.
What do you do? First, make sure that you are using a well-known and reliable wallet. There have been scams where hackers offer wallets with supposed benefits only to empty depositors’ wallets and disappear.
When trading, use an established exchange too. Be sure it is secure and has a good reputation. As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, large firms and exchanges are offering trading platforms. Take advantage of this trend to keep your coins safe.
Do you trade in other currency? Forex trading is another place where security is vital, and much of this depends on the broker you choose. The truth is, no one forex broker is right for everyone. You need to carefully evaluate them based on your needs and the security they provide.
Things like speed, comfort with the forex platform, spreads, and commissions are also important to understand. Forex trades are much like cryptocurrency trades: Security is paramount, and the right hacker given the right opportunity can drain your accounts and really ruin your day.
Trading online is becoming more popular, but as it does, hackers are becoming more determined. Take steps to secure your trading accounts and follow up with new security updates to keep your money safe online.