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Simple Security and Your Money

Do you wander around announcing your PIN for your accounts loudly on City Streets? If you are doing online banking, do you yell your Account IDs in crowded rooms? I would doubt that anyone does this (and if they do, it is within your rights to walk up to them and ask,”In what bizarre world do you live that you think what you just did was secure?”). Luckily, all you need is some simple security measures.

While those examples are ludicrous, they do happen, and here are some other areas where you may not think you are being unsafe with your money, but you are.

Wireless Phone Technologies and On-Line Banking

While I am not part of the Aluminum Foil Hat brigade (to stop me from having my thoughts read by whatever security agency you wish), I do not trust wireless technologies at all. My experience in the Telecommunications industry has taught me how these technologies do “security,” but it has also taught me a lot about how these allegedly secure systems will be compromised:

  • Do not use your home wireless phone for banking purposes in any way, shape, or form. Even if the phones claim to be using some type of security between the handset and base station, you would be astonished how easy it is to turn this security off, without you knowing it. Yes, to listen in it would take a nefarious person close by, but why risk this at all? Use a regular wired phone for this kind of transaction, that way the only people listening must have a court order to do so.
  • Your BlueTooth headset for your cell phone stuck in your ear (maybe creating a cancerous growth, who knows) is the same as a bull horn for anything you say. No matter how you slice it, these devices are the last place you should be discussing or talking about any sensitive information, assume everyone is listening when you talk on these devices (because they probably are).
  • Wireless Cell Phones themselves (the newer ones) have built-in security so they are better, but if you are talking in a public place, where others can hear what you say, how secure is that conversation? Do you buy things over the phone and give out your Credit Card Number on your cell phone? Where were you when you did this? Maybe you could have waited until you were somewhere safer to give out that info?

Am I being overly cautious? Yes, but you can’t be overly careful with your money and vital information.

Home Wireless Networks in General

If you do not secure your home Wi-Fi wireless network, you are asking for a lot of trouble.

There was the case of the elderly couple who had left their Wi-Fi wide open and an entrepreneur decided to use it to run his kiddy porn site through. The RCMP arrested the couple and it took a while for these poor souls to be acquitted of the charges laid against them.

For example, I drive to work each day with my iPod turned on, and playing on my Car Radio, and sometimes I forget to turn off the Wi-Fi antenna on that system. As I drive, the iPod picks up countless wireless networks that I pass, most of which are secured, but there are still a large number that are not secured (and I can see them easily). Yes, this is a form of War Driving, which is bad form, but I simply point this out since this is me with an iPod, think of someone with a LapTop, a good antenna and nefarious goals in mind can do!

Here are some simple security hints for your home wireless network right now by:

  • Turning on whatever security protocol can run on your Access Point be it WPA or WPA2, most lap tops now easily work with these protocols, so you have no excuse for not using them.
  • Turn off SSID broadcasting on your Access Point, once you have everything set up with your computer. It makes it harder to find you, and that is a good thing in Wireless
  • When you connect to a network, make sure it is one you know about (someone can set up an OPEN network near you and then you are connected with no security, and you may not know about it).

Take these simple security steps and your wireless home network will be safer, but still do not do your on-line banking over Wi-Fi, use a wired connection for this kind of transaction, just to be safe. If you use the Free wireless in your Hotel or at a Coffee House, and you do your on-line banking, this is just asking for Security issues, please stop doing this! Free Wi-Fi is great for Instant Messaging and e-mails that are non-sensitive, and that is IT! (and even then, the system you used on the network view it as compromised).

If you do not secure your home network, people can easily get access to your home computers and take whatever information on them you store and use it to their own devices, so please secure them, right now.

This isn’t my first post about this important part of your Personal Finances, and it won’t be my last either. Remember to be secure with your money.


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