More Banking, Less Hacking: Protecting your Financial Data

John Dillinger. Bonnie and Clyde. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid … The most notorious bank robbers are long gone – as are the days when you could actually put a name and face to the person committing the heist. However, robberies are not the only concern for today’s financial institutions or their clients. The most important aspect of protecting monetary data today, is knowing how to safely conduct online banking.

In recent years, the global financial industry has been urged to tighten their security efforts as hacks persist. This has been particularly true in recent months, as cyberattacks on foreign banks have stolen tens of millions of dollars. Just because these attacks have occurred in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ecuador, and the Philippines, doesn’t mean they can’t happen to your U.S.-based financial account.

Anyone can be a hacker, and they can operate from anywhere on earth. These hackers exploit system weaknesses, which enable them to compromise customer data. Though the technology involved in both combatting and carrying out hacks is innovative, these criminals follow pretty basic steps to getting your money:

  • They utilize malware to get around security systems
  • They get access to the bank’s network
  • They transfer money from your account to their account (or whatever account they wish)

What you can do …

You can’t control your bank’s security, but you can make some smart moves to safeguard your account.

Aside from the standard – and obvious – cautionary measures (like checking your statements for disputable charges and not disclosing your PIN), there are certain ways you can make sure technology is working to help you prevent threats from hackers.

Here are seven steps to safer banking:

  1. Never provide personal information to strangers via email or phone. In fact, never give that information to any stranger – unsolicited emails and phone calls are common methods for hackers to get your information.
  2. Watch out for unknown files. Some files are designed by cybercriminals to automatically install malicious software on your computer. By doing so, they can steal your information – and money. One way to mitigate issues caused by malevolent files is to run active, up-to-date antivirus software on your system. Another safeguard is simple: if a file looks suspicious, ignore it, and definitely don’t open any attachments associated with a strange email message. If you’re in doubt as to whether or not it’s a legit email or attached file, default to the premise that it’s malicious. Better safe than sorry.
  3. Utilize multi-factor authentication. Not every bank allows this safeguard, so find out if they do. This entails receiving a code or security token on your smart phone every time you attempt to log into your bank account. By entering this password, you can then access your information.
  4. Be especially careful of how and where you store your passwords. If a hacker finds or cracks your code, they can drain your account. Ideally, you’ll develop and memorize a strong and unique banking password. Don’t want to rely on your memory? You can use a password manager, which, if it’s a good one, will not only securely store your password, but help you augment weaker ones.
  5. Check the insurance status of whatever financial institution you’re working with. It’s essential to make sure your money is federally insured – particularly if it’s an online bank with no physical location. Before doing business with them, peruse their website to find out if they are covered from the FDIC.
  6. Beware of public Wi-Fi. Hackers can intercept your data being transferred through a public network – all while sitting at a table next to you. If you bank online using a public Wi-Fi, be sure to use a secure VPN. (Your best bet is to do your banking at home)
  7. Pay attention to your account. Access your account frequently just to check for any recent activity. If something looks suspicious (e.g., an unauthorized charge), report it to your bank. The sooner you act after a security breach, the better your chances to get back your money.

With almost every threat posed by hackers, there are technologies to combat them. These technologies, in tandem with managed and compliant security services, can keep your financial data secure. Our experts tailor solutions to serve the security needs of financial services, enabling those agencies to focus on their goals and their customers.

Financial website hosting should be handled by industry experts. Contact us today to learn about how Contegix promotes online security and compliance for financial agencies.