Cyber crime has been with us for many years, but the problem may be getting worse. A recent cyber-attack at Equifax affected up to 143 million people. Hackers compromised 76 million accounts at JP Morgan Chase. Security breaches affected 145 million customers at Ebay and 70 million at Target. Even the IRS systems have been penetrated. At this point, security experts say it’s wise to assume that your personal information and credentials have been accessed and made available to criminals.

Passwords on their own aren’t as infallible as we need them to be. Cyber attackers have the power to test billions of passwords combinations in a second, and the vast majority of people use the same password everywhere.

This is where dual factor authentication (DFA) comes in handy. 

DFA will offer you an extra layer of protection, beyond passwords. It’s much more difficult for cyber criminals to obtain the second authentication factor which drastically reduces their chances of succeeding.

What is dual factor authentication?

Also known as “two factor” or “multi factor” authentication – this process adds a layer of security to your online accounts. The most common example is a one-time code sent via text message that is required to access your online account after you’ve entered your password. This second layer of authentication means a hacker or criminal would need to steal your password along with your phone in order to access your account.

How does the second factor work?

After you enter your password – the first authentication factor – the second factor usually arrives by SMS. You’ll get a text with a numerical code that you’ll then need to enter to log into your account. Unlike a PIN code for a debit card, a DFA code is used only one time; each time you log into that account, you’ll be sent a new code.

Alternatively, you can use a dedicated authentication app to receive codes instead of using text messaging. Popular authentication apps are Google Authenticator, Authy andDuoMobile. Both Fidelity and Charles Schwab use the Symantec VIP Access app.

We highly recommend using dual factor authentication for the following sites:

  • + Paracle portal (you will notice this has been activated next time you login)
  • + Your custodian’s website and mobile app (e.g. Schwab or Fidelity)
  • + Your bank account website and mobile app
  • + Your email accounts (Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), especially if you use any of those accounts for recovering lost passwords on any of these sites
  • + Social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • + Your phone provider and smartphone accounts (AT&T, Apple ID, etc.)
  • + Any other website that offers it

How does Paracle provide additional security?

  • + Ongoing monitoring of your accounts for money movement, unauthorized trading, new accounts, and address changes
  • + Requiring two-factor authentication for employees to access client-related data
  • + Utilizing email that supports encrypted viewing and transmission
  • + Shredding all documents with client information
  • + Deploying several layers of firewalls to protect our systems
  • + Maintaining confidentiality agreements with all vendors with access to our office
  • + Verifying by phone any requests to wire funds
  • + Extensive staff training on protecting confidential client information and preventing fraud

It might be distressing to think about all the ways that criminals can target you and your family. But using dual factor authentication will go a long way toward reducing your risk. If you have any questions, or you’d like to discuss your options for protecting yourself, your Paracle advisor would be happy to speak with you.