7 Tips for Staying Cyber Secure | The New York Community Trust
November 6, 2018   |   By The New York Community Trust
7 Tips for Staying Cyber Secure

Computer language 0s and 1s.

The New York Community Trust’s Women’s Advisory Council recently hosted its first cyber security donor briefing, where four financial and cyber security experts advised Trust donors, staff, and guests on how to stay safe online and reduce the risk of identity theft:

  1. Consider the innocent.
    Always remain cautious as you click “allow” and geotag images. Hackers investigate, deduce, and use what they find through information you share online to cause harm. For example, you or a guest in your home may take a picture with valuables in the background. When posting this photo with a geotag you can create an entryway into your home. Not just hackers but anyone with criminal intent can now see you have worthy valuables in your home and find your exact address within the tag leading to a potential home robbery. You can manage this by disabling the geotag option on Instagram and Facebook, for example; you can still use your mobile phone to geotag your photos for future reference, but if you disable geotags on your social media accounts, the photo’s location will not be visible when posting.
  2. Identify all your access points.
    Think about how you secure your home. How many windows and doors do you lock? It’s the same for digital access. Know where all your access points are, and that doesn’t just include smartphones, computers and tablets, but also Bluetooth-enabled devices, Amazon Alexa (and others like it), smart TVs and appliances, WiFi-enabled thermostats—anything that connects you to cyberspace. The best way to still utilize these devices and be safe, is to use a strong password for each one, as well as your WiFi.
  3. Practice monitoring.
    An attack could be under way that you aren’t aware of yet. Check privacy settings across platforms and devices you use. Check your router manual to find out how to tell if there are unwelcome guests on your WiFi. Regularly look at your ATM and credit card activity online; it may be too late if you wait to check your statements. You can monitor credit card activity by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies. Each one provides you with a free report (not score) annually. Consider requesting a report from one of the agencies every four months. If you see erroneous information, make sure to report and dispute it. If you suspect fraud or identity theft, take immediate action and freeze your record so no one can take out additional credit in your name.
  4. Use a subnetwork for guests.
    Most routers allow you to create multiple networks, including a guest network, where you can set up an alternate password to share with guests or even your smart appliances, keeping your main devices less open to attack. You can do the same for your children so when they bring friends home, no one has access to your main network’s password information.
  5. Create secure passwords and change them frequently.
    An eight-digit password consisting of words from the English language are easy to crack. Here’s how to make sure you have a strong password.

    • First, choose a phrase you will remember—from your favorite book, a line of poetry, a nursery rhyme, or a quote from a movie.
    • Then select the first letter of each word in the phrase—that becomes the base of your password—and substitute letters with numbers or characters.
    • To add length, insert dashes, underscores, the year, or the first three letters of the platform your password is for. Too much work?  You can always use a password generator such as strongpasswordgenerator.com or the Safari generated password on Apple devices.
    • Determine the level of scrutiny or time you want to spend on this because not every platform is equal (e.g., financial institution passwords should be well thought-out and complicated vs. a newsletter subscription).
  6. Consider using a trusted password storage application.
    Some options include free apps like LastPass, RoboForm, and Dashlane. Remember that these are only as good as the password that protects them.
  7. Don’t forget, anti-virus protection is not just for your computer or laptop.
    The apps you trust to protect your computer can also be a line of defense for your mobile device. Some free options are Avast and Lookout for IOS users or Norton and McAfee for Android users. Of course, there are other fee-based options available.


The panel sitting around a conference table.

SECURITY MEASURES: The panelists selected by the Trust’s Women’s Advisory Council sit at the head of the table offering guidance on cyber security tactics to Trust donors. From left to right: Jessica Rigby, Cindy Gerhard, John Mathena, and Pat Caldwell.

Experts included:

  • Cindy Gerhard, Board Member, Ample Table for Everyone, and former Citibank and JPMorgan Chase managing director for technological innovations in financial products.
  • Jessica P. Rigby, CFP®, Senior Wealth Manager, BNY Mellon Wealth Management
  • John R. Mathena, Senior Wealth Director, BNY Mellon Wealth Management; Founding Board Member, Semper Fidelis Young Leaders Academy; Former Marine; Board Member, Veteran’s Center for Cyber Excellence; and member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
  • Pat Caldwell, Managing Director, Gordian Group, an investment banking firm specializing in distressed situations and restructurings.

Please contact Marie D’Costa, The Trust’s director of leadership and legacy giving,  if you’d like be invited to any further events in this series, at md@nyct-cfi.org.

The material is published for informational purposes only. The publisher is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice.

Find out more about our donor briefings and other events.

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