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Cybersecurity: Steps You Can TakeSubmitted by Townsend Asset Management Corp. on October 9th, 2017
We are all reeling from the potential impact of the enormous Equifax data breach with reportedly 143 million people at risk of having their most private data compromised. However, now is not the time for hand-wringing as there is protection out there.
Your Charles Schwab Accounts
Here at Townsend Asset Management, the majority of our clients have Charles Schwab investment accounts. Not only does Schwab guarantee to cover 100% of any losses in any of your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity, Schwab also protects your accounts in these ways:
- Using multiple layers beyond your login and ID before allowing access to your account. If any unauthorized activity is suspected, you will be asked for additional authentication.
- Using advanced 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL3) encryption technology and firewalls.
- Monitoring around the clock for suspicious behavior by using pattern analysis and other advanced monitoring systems.
- Offering you a free token to make your login more secure. This is a small device that randomly creates a six-digit number that you enter along with your Schwab password to access your account. We recommend that you order this free token by calling Schwab at (877) 862-6352.
- Never selling your information to anyone, for any reason, at any time.
Some of our clients have TD Ameritrade accounts. TD also guarantees that if you lose cash or securities from your account due to unauthorized activity, they will reimburse you for the cash or shares of securities you lost. In addition:
- TD Ameritrade (like Schwab) uses 128-bit SSL encryption technology. TD utilizes advanced firewalls to keep unauthorized parties from gaining access to personal information, as well as anamoly and intrusion detection technology to alert them to unusual behavior in an account.
- Firewalls keep TD’s public Web servers separate from the servers that contain account and personal data, so they can't be accessed directly from the Internet.
What You Can Do
When the data breach hit the news last month we sent out an email (Click Here) outlining positive actions you can take to protect yourself. Here are some additional measures:
- Protect your computer from viruses by updating your computer’s operating system, Internet browser and software. Install anti-virus and anti-spy software and activate your computer’s firewall.
- Create strong passwords and change them regularly. Don’t use any sensitive information in your login ID. Create different passwords for each account.
- Check a site's security setting. Make sure you only access personal information through Web sites that use Secure Sockets Layers (SSL). You can check whether the site you are on has an SSL in effect by checking for two things:
- Look at the Web site address. If you are on a secure site, the address will include https:// instead of http://. The extra "s" stands for secure.
- Look at the bottom of your browser or at the top (after the address bar) for a lock or key icon. This indicates a secure connection. Each secure site comes with a digital certificate, establishing its legitimacy. To view the certificate, double click on the lock or key.
If you get a pop-up message like this, do not proceed. This is notifying you that the site does not have a legitimate digital signature and you are not guaranteed a safe connection.
Reviewing these steps and putting them into practice will go a long way to help secure your online accounts.
Gerald A. Townsend, CPA/PFS/ABV, CFP®, CFA®, CMT is president of Townsend Asset Management Corp., a registered investment advisory firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Email: Gerald@AssetMgr.com