It's Your Money  

Protecting your finances online

Online security measures

In today’s online world, where convenience and connectivity are paramount, consumers are more reliant than ever on the internet for financial transactions, banking, and personal interactions.

However, this increasing digital dependence also exposes individuals to a growing array of cyber threats, especially in the realm of financial cybercrimes.

Financial-related cybercrimes encompass a wide range of illicit activities carried out by cybercriminals with the intent of siphoning money, stealing sensitive financial information, or committing fraud. These cybercrimes include phishing attacks, identity theft, credit card fraud, ransomware attacks, and more.

Canadians are prime targets for such criminal activities, given their reliance on digital payment methods and online banking. Therefore, the protection of digital identities becomes not just a matter of convenience but a vital aspect of personal security.

With that in mind, let’s look at 10 practical steps that you can take to protect yourself:

1. Fortify passwords and use multi-factor authentication.

The first line of defense against financial cybercrimes is a strong password. Opt for complex combinations of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. More importantly, use a unique password for each financial account. Complement this with multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA requires an extra piece of information beyond the password, rendering unauthorized access significantly more difficult.

2. Stay cautious of “phishing” attacks.

“Phishing” remains a top vector for financial cybercrimes. Cybercriminals often craft convincing emails or messages impersonating reputable financial institutions or people that you know. Exercise caution when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources and always verify the legitimacy of the communication before divulging any sensitive information.

3. Educate yourself about scams.

Be informed about the various types of financial scams circulating online. Familiarize yourself with the tactics cybercriminals employ, such as lottery scams, investment fraud, and romance scams. Being aware of these ploys can go a long way in protecting your financial assets.

4. Regularly monitor financial transactions.

Keep a vigilant eye on your financial statements. Regularly review bank accounts, credit card statements and online payment platforms for any unfamiliar or unauthorized transactions. Early detection can prevent potential financial losses.

5. Secure Wi-Fi networks.

Use secure Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions and avoid public networks for such activities. Public networks are often unsecured and can be easily exploited by cybercriminals to intercept sensitive data.

6. Safeguard personal information on social media.

Cybercriminals often scour social media platforms for personal information that can be exploited for financial cybercrimes. Review and limit the information visible to the public on your profiles to minimize the risk of identity theft.

7. Enable account alerts.

Many financial institutions offer account alerts via email or SMS for transactions above a certain threshold. This provides an additional layer of security by notifying you of significant transactions and potential anomalies.

8. Regularly update software.

Keeping your devices' operating systems, applications and security software up to date is essential. Updates often include patches to address known vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit.

9. Backup your data.

Regularly back up your financial and personal data to external storage or cloud services. This ensures that even if you fall victim to ransomware, your data remains safe and recoverable.

10. Use secure payment methods.

When conducting online transactions, choose secure payment methods, such as credit cards with fraud protection, over less secure options. These methods often offer additional layers of security in case of unauthorized transactions.

As consumers embrace the digital era for financial transactions, the importance of safeguarding their digital identities cannot be overstated. The surge in financial-related cybercrimes necessitates a proactive approach to digital identity protection.

By adopting these practical measures and staying vigilant, people can drastically reduce their susceptibility to financial cybercrimes.

Ultimately, the preservation of your financial security is in your hands, and your commitment to practicing these protective measures can serve as a defense against the ever-evolving landscape of online threats.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Brett Millard is vice-president and a member of the executive leadership team at FP Canada, the national professional body for the financial planning industry. A not-for-profit organization, FP Canada works in the public interest to foster better financial health for all Canadians by leading the advancement of professional financial planning in Canada. 

He has worked in the financial advice industry for more than 15 years and is designated as a chartered investment manager (CIM) and is a certified financial planner (CFP).

He has written a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations of the complex financial challenges they face in every stage of life. Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority for Brett and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer focus on that initiative. 

Please let Brett know if you have any topics you’d like him to cover in future columns ,or if you’d like a referral to a qualified CFP professional in your area, by emailing him at [email protected].


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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