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The internet and online accounts have made it easier than ever to keep your accounts in check and make immediate adjustments to your investing strategy. Yet cybercriminals know about the vulnerabilities that exist online for investors. They also know the rewards of a sustained hacking or scamming effort. While banks and other financial institutions have done a great job to protect their customers online in recent years, their methods aren’t perfect just yet.

Additionally, you can be endangering your retirement by doing (or not doing) things online that reveal your personal or account data. A hacker doesn’t need to work too hard to link all of your online activities together or spot an opportunity, and identity theft remains one of the major problems of our time. Once your assets or identity are stolen, it might not be simple to get them back.

Here are a few of the things you need to know and do to keep your savings safe online:

Identity Theft

The main online threat that you need to be concerned about it identity theft. It happens to millions of people each year, and there are few methods to root out the problem entirely. If you don’t protect your private information online, then you could wind up with bills for things you didn’t buy or a damaged credit rating (which might not return to normal after the matter has been settled). A quick search will yield you the horrifying consequences of identity theft.

Stay vigilant. Check your most fundamental accounts every day and see if you can get notifications should things shift in your other accounts (including your retirement account). If you notice anything, investigate and make phone calls. Don’t share information online you don’t need to (and you rarely need to). Shred sensitive documents, and delete unnecessary files. Remove entire online accounts if you think it will help. Avoid doing sensitive work on public computers. Do whatever will help protect your future.

Related: 10 Things You Need to Know About Identity Theft

Account Theft

If someone grabs your bank account login information and enough of your personal information to impersonate you, it’s quite possible you could lose a lot of money before you can say “wire transfer.” Some timely phone calls and checking the numbers can often reserve this, but it is not a risk you want to be taking.

Lock down all of your accounts with everything you can. If you only use one or two devices to access your assets, prohibit any other devices from getting in even if they have the right info. If you have $2,000 in your savings account and a hacker spends 20 hours researching your information, they still get $100 an hour. That makes you a target that needs to get serious about online security.

Fraud and Scams

Internet security isn’t all about having the best gadgets and programs to protect you. Sometimes it involves having the right mindset to protect your assets in any environment. What people wouldn’t fall for in the real world, they would throw money at online, and scammers’ success is evident in the number of people still trying to make a living as scammers online. Human error accounts for most security mistakes inside of and outside of the financial world. Don’t become a statistic.

Study what types of fraud and scams are most prevalent. Know that there are no easy solutions, and that if there is a business or investment opportunity, the one offering needs to make a profit as well. Contact an advisor or an expert if you’re ever suspicious, but for the most part, sticking to the tried and true paths online is your best option. Retirements are never made on the dark corners of the internet, only lost.

Common Vulnerabilities and Solutions

There are some other universal vulnerabilities that you should take a note of to keep your retirement plans safe:

  • Try to avoid the use of public networks due to the fact that hackers like to maintain a presence on them. Using some basic (and hard to detect) equipment, they can intercept anything sent or received on the network. This can include your account login information and your private communications. The best way to defend yourself is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It connects to an offsite server via an encrypted connection, allowing you to access any website (most people use it for Netflix) and stay safe on any network.
  • Despite how sophisticated you might think cybercriminals may be, strong verification measures and passwords are absolutely necessary to protect your assets. They are the difference between taking an hour and taking years to hack into your account. Those security questions exist for a reason, so don’t ignore them.
  • You cannot ignore your smartphone’s security, considering the fact that you probably have some financial data or accounts linked to it. What would happen if it were to get stolen? If it got infected with malware? Have a lock screen active on your phone and look into a security program for your smartphone if you use it a lot. Your retirement might depend on it.

A hack can not only put you back several days of work and wreak havoc on your digital assets, it can damage you for life and potentially lose you most of the assets you were relying on for retirement. Don’t let things go too far, and spend some time to learn more about internet security. Keep up with the latest threats, and don’t do anything involving finances online unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

What do you do for your own internet security? Have you ever had to deal with identity theft or another attack on your online accounts? If so, please tell us your thoughts and stories by leaving a comment below. You never know what you might be able to teach your fellow readers.

About the Author:
Cassie is a cyber security enthusiast who also enjoys saving money when she can. She recently learned different ways to protect her valuable retirement and thought she should share the tips with everyone so we can all worry a little less about our retirement.