Cybersecurity 101

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

As the reliance on the internet continues to grow, so does the need for cybersecurity. According to the cybersecurity company Norton, there are around 2,200 cyberattacks per day. In the ever-changing world that we live in, it is imperative to protect your private information from such attacks. Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to be the first line of defense against scams and malware.

Steps to Account Security

Here are a few things to consider to ensure your accounts stay protected:

    • Security Alerts: Set up security alerts via email or text so you are the first to know if your account has been compromised.
    • Voice Identification: If you have accounts with us at Schwab, you can enroll in Schwab’s voice ID service by calling 800-435-4000.
    • Protect Your Passwords: NEVER share your login information.
    • Update Your Devices/Apps Regularly: Device/App updates typically come with security updates. If you aren’t updating your devices/apps regularly, you are leaving yourself exposed to security holes in previous versions.
    • Protect Your Network: Fortify your own home’s network and router with strong passwords. Anything else in your home that utilizes the internet should also contain a password such as security systems, smart devices, cameras, etc.
    • Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Using public Wi-Fi in places like coffee shops and airports is fine to check the score of your favorite sports team or look up a definition for your game of scrabble, but be wary of using free Wi-Fi when logging into sensitive accounts. If you must do so, try using your own personal hotspot on your phone to maintain security. You can also use a personal VPN.
    • Assign a Trusted Contact: If you have not done so already, you may consider establishing a trusted contact person for your financial accounts. While a trusted contact person has no authority to make changes to your accounts, financial institutions may contact that person to discuss possible financial exploitation.
    • Make It a Conversation: Keep your entire family up to date on cybersecurity. Teach your kids from a young age the importance of internet safety and help your older relatives avoid possible scams.
    • Follow Your Gut: If you receive an email or a call that doesn’t feel quite right, there is nothing wrong with saying no to giving up sensitive information.
    • Be Aware of Phishing: See below for information on how to detect emails from scammers.

Passwords Are Key

Simply put, the number one rule of passwords is, you guessed it, never share your passwords. Be sure all of your passwords are strong and difficult to guess. Do not use information such as birthdays, names, etc. It is a good idea to create a password that uses a full combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols and are at least 8 characters long. Do not use the same password for multiple logins. Passwords should be hard to find! Do not store them in a notebook, or somewhere other people can easily access.

Nowadays, it is a great idea to maintain passwords on your devices as well. Make sure your laptop, smartphone, and tablets utilize a password, code, fingerprint, or facial recognition to access.

Password managers are a great option if you have many passwords or want to store them securely without having to remember each one. Most password managers can create, store, and autofill your passwords for an unlimited number of logins.

According to Investopedia, the best password managers of 2022 are:

Something Seems Phishy

Phishing emails are defined as malicious emails sent by an attacker to scam the receiver into revealing sensitive information, system credentials, or clicking on links that lead to viruses and malware on their device. Scammers may use techniques in these emails such as forgery, lying, misdirection, and more that can lead the recipient of such attacks to release sensitive information. Being able to recognize such emails is a great defense in protecting you from scams.

If you receive an unexpected email, take a moment to confirm the legitimacy of the email before clicking any links or replying with sensitive information. Begin by double-checking the email address. Is this the email this person normally uses? Is everything in the address spelled correctly? Does the domain make sense?

Next, hover your cursor over any links in the email without clicking on them. If the URL doesn’t match with what the sender is saying, do not click on it.

If the sender of the email is claiming to be someone you know, it never hurts to give that person or office a call to doublecheck that they sent the email. When in doubt, do not reply or click any links.

Remember, 5280 Associates will never ask you for your passwords. We will only ask for or provide sensitive information via an encrypted email or in a secure folder. If you are unsure about providing information to us via email, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Be Aware of Malware

According to Business Insider, malware refers to any software that is designed to damage, destroy, or steal data, take control of devices, or aid in other criminal activity. There are a few different kinds of malware to know about: adware, ransomware, scareware, spyware, trojan software, viruses, and worms.


Not all adware is malicious, as it is software that is simply meant to show you advertisements on your device. That being said, some adware can be harmful. You may have adware if you are seeing more ads than normal, the ads do not make sense or are not relatable to you in any way, your browser’s homepage has changed, your browser has new tools that were not installed to your knowledge, or you are being redirected to websites you did not mean to access. 


Ransomware works by encrypting some or all files on your computer and demanding a “ransom,” or a form of payment, in order to unlock them. It is important when you notice ransomware to not pay the fee, as there is no guarantee that doing so will actually get rid of the software encrypting your files. The best way to protect yourself is to back up your files frequently and be on the lookout for phishing scams. 


Scareware is software designed to tell you that your device has already been infected with malware. This will typically appear in the form of a pop-up with instructions on how to get rid of the virus with a link to antivirus software. This link is actually the malware in disguise and clicking on it will infect your PC. Be wary of such pop-ups and seek guidance from an IT professional when in doubt over a possible virus.


Spyware is literally meant to spy on your device. This form of malware steals information from your device and delivers it to scammers without you knowing. The best way to protect yourself from malware is be aware of phishing emails and protect your computer with antimalware software. 

Trojan Software

Trojan software gets its name from the Trojan Horse. It appears harmless and disguises itself as useful software- until it is too late.


Computer viruses work the same way as viruses in people. Once your device is infected, the malware will replicate itself, making the situation more difficult to cure.


Worms work the exact same way as viruses, but replicate the malware without any need for human prompting.

You can protect yourself from malware with firewalls (a network security device that filters traffic based on your network’s security policies), anti-phishing protection in your email account, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), password managers, encryption, parental controls, software to protect your microphone and webcam, and of course, malware protection software. Here is a list of the Best Malware Protection Software of 2022 according to Safety Detectives:


 What 5280 Associates is Doing to Protect You

Your private and account information can only be accessed by our team via multi-factor authentication and we only access your data on devices approved by our security company. These devices are used by our team members only.

5280 Associates does not share your financial information unless you are present or have completed a form that authorizes us to disclose your information to select individuals.

As mentioned above, our team will never ask you for your passwords. If our team members call you with sensitive information, you can expect us to verify we are speaking with the right person by asking for your date of birth or some other piece of information. If we are emailing, sensitive information will be sent via an encrypted email or in a secure password protected folder. If you have private information to send our team, please ask for a link to a secure email. If you ever feel unsure about something you have received from our team, please give us a call.

Remember, you are the first line of defense against theft and damage to your assets. Be aware of possible scams and make sure your devices are up-to-date with anti-malware software. The best security is like an onion- it has layers! Unfortunately, there is not one single thing you can do to protect yourself, but following these steps will make your shield over your assets stronger. Of course, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions in regards to how we protect you and your private information here at 5280 Associates.


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