Now, more than ever before, there is an abundance of important information related to our lives that is stored digitally. For example, we have email accounts, online banking accounts, social networking accounts, pictures and personal documents stored in the “cloud,” and more. All of these accounts need to be carefully safeguarded. Private Wealth, a publication of Financial Advisors Magazine, offers ten tips for managing digital information efficiently and safely:
1. Avoid accessing sensitive data and websites through a public Wi-Fi Internet connection.
2. Always log out of a website when you’re done accessing it.
3. Keep software and apps up to date so you always have the latest security fixes.
4. Erase any data on phones, tablets, laptops and other devices before disposing of them.
5. Always review account statements, and if clients are in doubt about an e-mail they receive, they should go directly to the sending website.
6. Clients should not put personal information in an e-mail. Instead, they should share sensitive information with their advisor over the phone.
7. Be selective in what e-mails are saved to a folder.
8. Regularly empty the digital trash.
9. Clients should read the privacy policies of the websites they use and determine how personal information is stored and used.
10.The security settings of PCs, smartphones, tablets and other devices used to access the Internet should be checked regularly.
The article in Private Wealth also emphasizes password safety. They suggest using a different password for each account and changing your passwords at least twice a year. In order to keep track of all of the different usernames and passwords, you can make a list. The list should also be password protected, but this means that essentially you will only need to remember ONE username and password. You can store your list on a USB drive, which should be kept somewhere safe but accessible. It is crucial to ensure that you update the list with new passwords/accounts regularly.
If you do not want to make your own list, you can also use a commercial password keeper, which are available as an app or through online sites. Keep in mind that your passwords should be cryptic enough to safeguard your data, but should also be something you could easily remember if needed. Private Wealth suggests using a formula or phrase that it easy to remember, but hard to recreate. They provide the example of the phrase, “I work at Atlantic Trust on the 37th floor!” to remember the password “IwaATot37thf!”
It is also advisable to make sure that provisions are made within your estate plan to ensure that your current powers of attorney have access to digital assets and accounts if need be. Tully Law, P.C. is a Long Island elder law, estate planning and elder care firm available to make sure that all aspects of your life are accounted for in your estate planning documents. Please do not hesitate to contact us to begin the planning process today.