Cybersecurity – How Plan Participants Can Help Thwart Potential Hackers
Total US retirement assets surpassed $26.1 trillion in 2017 according to the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA). As a significant investment for many Americans, retirement assets are an attractive target for many hackers globally.
This growing threat is compounded by the fact that most people check their retirement accounts sporadically and not nearly as often as other accounts, such as checking accounts or credit cards. A cursory quarterly glance when a retirement statement is available may be the only review these accounts ever receive, which makes fraudulent activity potentially easier for the unscrupulous hacker lurking on the dark net.
Prevention Is Only As Good As Participation
While retirement plan providers and plan sponsors continue to implement multi-level security protocol and procedures to proactively prevent cybersecurity breaches, retirement plan participants also have an active role to play in safeguarding their retirement accounts. In reality, retirement plan security measures are only as good as their adoption by plan participants. With this in mind, there are a number of proactive, common-sense steps participants can take now to prevent future fraudulent activity. These protective measures include the following:
Monitor Retirement Accounts:
- Check retirement accounts regularly and immediately report any suspicious activity.
- Create strong passwords that are different from the passwords used on other sites and include letters, numbers and special characters.
- Don’t reuse passwords.
- Avoid sharing passwords.
- Change a password at least every 90 days.
- If a browser gives the option to remember a password, just say no.
Access Account Information Wisely:
- Don’t access financial accounts on public Wi-Fi.
- Don’t use public computers to check accounts.
Prevent and Protect Against Phishing And Hacking:
- Don’t respond to suspicious email or phishing and never open or download suspicious attachments.
- Protect against malware by installing a security suite or program that includes antivirus, antispam and malware protection.
- Ensure that the answers set up for online security questions are not composed of publicly available information such as a birth date, child’s first name or anything readily available on social media.
As cybersecurity threats intensify and hackers gain more access to personal information, proactive steps to protect personal information and access to retirement accounts is key. Reminding participants of their part to play and the ways they can protect their retirement accounts will help to thwart fraudulent activity in the future.