We have all heard of cyberattacks, whether it is the recent Colonial Pipeline Ransomware, stolen identity, or cyber scams.  For those that have been involved in a cyberattack, it is unsettling at the very least, and can be costly to fix.  Not to mention the time you spend trying to fix the problem.

In 2016 we began paying more attention to the cybersecurity sector and continue to think this sector deserves consideration in most portfolios. Why? We are in a digital world and cyber security is likely to continue being a consequential issue

This month, I wanted to write about how we all are under the threat of a cyberattack and how to prevent it.  These threats include ransomware, cyber scammers and identity theft.  We all want to make sure our information does not end up in the wrong hands.

Protect your information:  Back up your computers and have strong cyber security software for your computer and emails.  Second, ensure that your banking institutions and investment firms have two-factor authentication.  This includes your 401k too.  Two-factor authentication means not only do you need to know the user ID and password, you also receive a text to your cell phone or email with an authentication code before entry is allowed.  Some institutions may use an app for two-factor authentication, like Symantec VIP or Okta Verify.   Check with your investment custodian to make sure they have the two-factor verification.  At LEWA, we use both Schwab and Pershing which both use two-factor authentications. This is going to become more and more important and prevalent as time goes on.

Stay ahead scammers:   Beware of fake invoices or suspicious email.  Most of the time, scammers will pretend to be from an institution that you are familiar with to try to convince you to give up personal information.  Regarding IRS scammers, the IRS will never make the first contact with you by phone, it is always in writing.  An example of another popular scam is the Social Security scam.  Someone calls you and says your social security number is linked to a crime and its now blocked, however, for a fee we can lift the block.  The Social Security office will not contact you like this.  Finally, another popular scam shows on your computer as a pop up that does not go away.  It tells you to call a given number.  Do not do it as its likely a scam.   Instead, run a scan of your virus software program to get rid of the pop up.

Be Cybersecure:  Not all Wi-Fi is created equal.  Best practice, never use someone else’s Wi-Fi.  Instead, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The cost for this has decreased over the last few years.   Obviously, always be careful what information you choose to enter on websites and make sure if you opt to enter any personal information that the site is secure.  As you know, we at LEWA use a different email domain when we send personal information to you, our client.  Our secure email is served by a company called Smarsh.   When you see a secure email from us, it comes from the @cambridgesecure.com domain.

Finally, always be alert of your spending and make sure you review your bank, credit card, 401k’s and investment statements often to make sure everything looks correct to you.

Take care, be safe and have a great summer!

Spencer D. Neal, AIF®, C(k)P®

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Annapolis, MD 21401
443-333-4665 office
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