During my 24+ years leading FBI criminal and national security investigations, I never met an organization or individual who thought they would become a victim, including myself. As a result of this reality, I established Pegasus Solutions LLC, a Veteran-Owned Small Business, to help organizations and individuals protect themselves and their assets.

Pegasus Solutions adheres to the FBI’s Vision “Ahead of the Threat” to mitigate business and personal risk. Of course, there are thousands of proactive steps organizations and individuals can take to stay ahead of threats. However, trying to incorporate numerous security changes at once leads to further vulnerability and other pitfalls.

I believe protecting your organization or yourself starts with small, rather simple actions.

Before we start on organizational changes, let’s start with you. Below are three actions you should do now to better protect yourself and your money. These three actions are not in any order or level of importance but I want to share them so you can better protect yourself now…

Strengthen your passwords and initiate multi-factor authentication (MFA) when possible.

In the digital world, your password and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are your first line of defense. According to the Center for Internet Security, Inc.® (CIS®) Policy Password Guide, the password length and composition are critical in creating a strong password to defend yourself from cybercriminals. A strong password for a password-only account should be at least 14 characters in length with at least one non-alphabetic character. A password with 8 characters and a non-alphabetic character is sufficient for an account with MFA. When possible, utilize MFA as it significantly improves your cybersecurity defenses. Incorporating a strong password and MFA should be your ultimate goal for obtaining a strong cybersecurity posture.

As explained in the CIS®Password Policy Guide, the longer the password the harder it’s to crack. Instead of using passwords, think of using a pass-phrase with at least one non-alphabetic character. For example, a strong pass-phrase would be ChangeYourPasswordNow#1 . Pass-phrases can also be easier to remember than a string of random letters and numbers, so I highly recommend them. But don’t forget to turn on MFA! The link below provides a great overview of how to incorporate stronger passwords / pass-phases and MFA to better protect your online accounts.

Purchase a Chromebook for doing on-line banking and other financial matters only; DO NOT use the Chromebook to read e-mails or visit social media sites.

I strongly recommend incorporating this practice into your digital security plan. Simply put, it will help you significantly reduce your exposure to cybercriminals and better protect your online financial accounts and money!

Chromebooks have several layers of built-in security that include: automatic updates, “sandboxing”, verified boot, data encrypting, and recovery mode. One of its strongest features is the Chrome Operating System (OS) which runs every web page and application in its own “sandbox”. This keeps malicious programs from making any changes to the rest of your system. But enough of the technical jargon, just do it to better protect your money.

Chromebooks are an affordable way to do your online banking while avoiding the financial consequences inflicted by a cyber-criminal. Accessing email and visiting social media sites only provides cyber criminals more opportunities to access and steal your money, so keeping them separate from your online finances is important. To improve your cybersecurity habits, get a Chromebook for your use only with online banking and financial matters. If you have elderly parents, this is a must!

Do not leave valuables in your parked car while at the fitness center, athletic field, etc.

Over eight years ago, while handling FBI criminal investigations, one of the issues I dealt with was the Felony Lane Gang (FLG). The members of these organizations and I use organization lightly, are smash and grab bandits with a unique financial M.O.

These petty criminals break into vehicles usually parked at locations where people leave their wallets and purses in their cars. After breaking into the car, the criminals quickly harvest any credit and debits cards from the stolen items. As soon as possible, they attempt to use the stolen cards to get cash from a nearby financial institution before the victim is aware of the theft. For context, Felony Lane refers to the outermost lane at a bank drive-thru where it was at one time harder to visually identify the driver of the car, hence the name Felony Lane Gang.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, FLG’s are still around today causing havoc. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons they are still around is people continue to leave valuables in cars, making a life of crime easier for these street criminals. Search Felony Lane Gang and you’ll most likely read a recent account of their escapades in your town.

To save yourself money and the time to cancel your credit cards and close bank accounts, do not leave valuables in your car. If you do, the FLG will ruin your day and steal you money…