Security Tech: Apps and Other Tips to Help Protect Your Financial Data
Everyone is worried these days about the safety of their personal information — and with good reason. Security breaches have become a fact of life. But there are many tools out there to help you protect your data. Here are just a few of the best apps, tech and tips to support a data-secure life.
There are three key apps for protecting your online communications:
- A digital vault app provides protection for sensitive electronic items (e.g., pictures). There are free and paid options, with some plans offering a wider range of services. Keeper is a highly rated pick and is available for both Android and iOS.
- An encrypted messaging app ensures that only you and the intended recipient can read your messages. If a third party seizes them, they won’t be able to open them. Signal is a great option — it is free, available for both Android and iOS, and supports a variety of message formats.
- A VPN app lets you use a secure private network and hides your data from prying eyes. While there are free versions, they usually are less secure than their paid counterparts. Instead, check out ExpressVPN’s free one-month trial to see if you like the technology.
Know your credit score — it is a good indicator of your financial-data security. If it changes suddenly and radically, something is probably up. Every year, you can get a free credit report from each of the three big agencies (see Credit Karma or AnnualCreditReport for more info). For an added layer of safety, think about using a credit monitoring agency, which sends alerts about suspicious activity.
Your login information is your first line of defense online. You want to make sure you create complex, hard-to-guess passwords for every account. But it can be hard to keep track of all that info. Thankfully, there are many reputable password management apps available to help. These store all of your passwords under one secure account. Try LastPass — one of the top picks in this field.
Many of us love shopping from home, but entering sensitive information for online orders can be dicey. Always check to see if the site you are using is protected. You can do this by reading the web address. If it starts with “https” and not “http,” you are good to go; the “s” stands for “secure.” There should also be a little padlock symbol in the address bar, depending on your browser. These are signs that all communication on the site is safeguarded. And remember: Never send personal info while using public Wi-Fi (e.g., at a coffee shop). It is too easy for others to access.