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How to Protect Your Information

In our increasingly digital world, safeguarding personal information has become a critical necessity. Cyber threats, data breaches, and privacy invasions are ever-present dangers. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians reported $569 million lost to fraud in 2023--that’s an average of $14 lost for every Canadian.  Here’s how you can take proactive steps to protect your information, your privacy, and your funds.

Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Passwords are your first line of defense. Ensure each of your accounts has a strong, unique password that includes a mix of letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information such as birthdays or simple sequences like "123456." Consider using a password manager to generate and store passwords securely.

Enable 2-Step Verification (2SV)

Two-Step Verification adds an extra layer of security. It requires a password plus a second form of verification, such as a text message code, authentication app, or biometric verification. Enable 2SV wherever possible, especially for your most sensitive accounts like email, banking, and social media. (Learn more about ABCU’s 2-Step Verification here)

Keep Software Updated

Outdated software can have vulnerabilities that cybercriminals exploit. Regularly update your operating system, browser, antivirus software, and any other applications you use. Many updates include patches for security flaws that have been discovered since the last version.

Be Wary of Phishing Scams

Phishing scams trick individuals into providing personal information by pretending to be legitimate entities. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or phone calls asking for personal details. Verify the sender’s identity before clicking on links or downloading attachments. Look for telltale signs of phishing such as poor grammar, generic greetings, and suspicious URLs.

Use Secure Connections

When browsing the internet, ensure that the websites you visit use HTTPS rather than HTTP. The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure, indicating that the site encrypts your data. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions such as online banking, as these networks are often less secure. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection.

Limit Personal Information Sharing

Be mindful of the amount of personal information you share online. Social media platforms are gold mines for cybercriminals looking to gather data. Review your privacy settings on these platforms to control who can see your posts and personal details. Think twice before sharing information like your location, vacation plans, or any identifying details.

Monitor Your Accounts Regularly

Regularly check your bank statements, credit reports, and account activity for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious behavior. Early detection of any anomalies can prevent potential fraud or identity theft. Most banks and credit card companies offer alert services that notify you of unusual activity.

The two main credit reporting bureaus in Canada are Equifax and TransUnion. You can access your credit score from either bureau, and from other sources, for free online. Checking your own credit is a soft inquiry, so you can check it as often as you want without worry that you’ll damage your credit score.

Backup Your Data

Ransomware attacks, hardware failures, or other issues can result in data loss. Regularly back up your data to an external hard drive or a secure cloud service. This ensures that you have access to your important files even if something happens to your primary device.

Use Encryption

Encrypting your sensitive data adds an additional layer of security. This can include encrypting files on your devices, using encrypted communication channels (like encrypted email services), and ensuring that any cloud storage services you use also offer encryption.

For more details how to encrypt a file or an email message, check out this article from Microsoft. 

Educate Yourself and Stay Informed

Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field. Stay informed about the latest threats and security best practices. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers news releases on recent scams and frauds, additional resources on how to protect yourself, and steps to take if you’ve fallen victim to fraud.


Protecting your information in today’s digital age requires vigilance and proactive measures. By implementing strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, keeping your software updated, being cautious of phishing scams, using secure connections, limiting the sharing of personal information, monitoring your accounts, backing up your data, using encryption, and staying informed, you can significantly enhance your personal cybersecurity. Remember, the effort you invest in safeguarding your information today can save you from potential headaches and security breaches tomorrow.

If you’d like to discuss the security of your online banking with ABCU, please reach out to us at 1-888-929-7511.