Tips to Prevent Cybercrime

Last month, I shared some tips from retired FBI Special Agent Jeff Lanza on preventing Identity Theft. In his session, he also shared tips for protecting your information online to prevent Cybercrime. Here are some of his tips and best practices.


  • Strong & Unique: Passphrases are a string of words vs. a traditional password, but they can be easier to create and remember. To make passphrases or passwords strong, use at least 12 characters and create unique credentials for each online account. The addition of numbers and special characters increases the strength of a password or passphrase.
  • Password Managers: Of course, the challenge with creating unique and strong passwords for each website is having a way to remember them yourself. A password manager is a great tool for securely storing these credentials. Some good options are Keeper, Dashlane, 1Password, LastPass and Bitwarden. If you store credentials in the Notes App on your phone, lock the note and protect locked notes with a strong password.


  • Prevent phishing “Hover to Discover”: A key to identifying phishing emails is hovering over the sender’s email address. By hovering (not clicking) on email addresses (as well as links within the email), you can identify the actual sender. If the displayed email/link and the actual are different, then there is a good chance it is a phishing email. I’ve also found phishing emails are easier to spot on a computer than on a tiny mobile screen.
  • Unsubscribing: While unsubscribing from unwanted emails from companies you’ve done business with is a good idea, make sure not to reply to or unsubscribe from junk or phishing emails. That will notify the sender that your email address is active prompting more spam. It is best to send these emails directly to spam/junk folder.

Computer Software and Security

  • This area is simple; make sure all computers are protected with antivirus software. McAfee, Norton and Windows Defender are three popular options and are automatically updated. For additional protection, consider a malware removal program to compliment your antivirus. Malwarebytes is a common option.

Mobile Security

  • App Security: Always download apps from trusted sources. Check the privacy policy to see what information it can access. Don’t give apps more permission than they need to function. Regularly delete unused apps from your device to minimize access to personal information.
  • Device Security: First, protect your device with a secure passcode (or Touch ID/Face ID). Text messages are like email; do not call, reply or click on links unless you’ve verified the sender. Keep the operating system up to date and turn off wi-fi and Bluetooth when not needed to maintain more privacy.

If you would like more information or have a specific concern, let us know. As always, we are here for you. Please email or call if you want to set up a meeting or talk by phone.

Mary McCraw, CFP®

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