It seems that every week there is a good example of why it is imperative to protect your personal information.

This week it comes courtesy of England’s Daily Mail.  

The article provides some good advice on safeguarding your computer from trojan attacks.

Protecting your personal data is crucial if you e-bank or have an online brokerage account.

A concern that I have in North America is the relatively weak bank and brokerage websites.

For example, most North American banks that I am aware of require your account number and personal password to log in. Bank and debit cards require 4 digit codes.

Contrast that with some banks in Switzerland.

In my experience, bank and debit cards have the option of 6 digit codes. A little more security than 4 digits.

Bank and brokerage websites are even more complex.

One bank provides personal access cards and separate electronic card readers to clients. Access cards are password protected.

When visiting the website, you need to enter your contract number which is different from your account number. This generates a random 8 digit alphanumeric code.

You then insert your personal access card into the electronic reader and activate it by inputting your individual access code. Once active, you input the website’s random 8 digit code into your card reader and it, in turn, generates its own 8 digit randomly generated code. You enter that second code into the website and gain access to your data.

To review your own banking and portfolio information, you need an access card, an electronic card reader, and your contract number. Miss one, or the required password, and you cannot see your data. If you input codes incorrectly 3 times, your account access is frozen.

A little bit more protection than most North American banks and brokers provide.

Be extremely careful.

Take all the precautions you can to safeguard your personal information and assets.

Otherwise, you may wake up one day to find your accounts empty.

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