There have been a number of hacks at major corporations such as Ashley Madison and Target. Users’ personal information was stolen on a mass scale. The Identity Theft Resource Center tracked all data breaches in the US in 2015, and of the 781 that occurred, approximately 10% were finance related.
What Steps Can Be Taken to Protect against Hackers?
Cybersecurity experts point to the dangers of consolidating too much information into a single program. For the most part, financial apps (personal bank accounts, credit cards etcetera) are typically safe. Banks invest heavily in the security of their software, and this is evident in the budget allocations towards cyber safety. For example, Bank of America (BAC) pumped $400 million into security in 2016. Other banks like Wells Fargo & Company (WFC), Citigroup (C ), JP Morgan (JPM), and the like are all on the same page. Banks do not want to compromise the security of their mobile/Internet banking operations, for fear that they will lose customers to the competition. This is not always a guarantee of success – in 2014, JPM was subject to one of the most invasive data breaches in the history of the US, resulting in the bank spending $500 million on Internet security in 2016.
From a user point of view, it’s important to follow safety protocols to ensure that cyber hacks do not take place. Experts advise reading the privacy disclosures and security fine print. It’s important to know precisely how banks and financial institutions are safeguarding the personal information of their clients. Further, by reading the fine print it is easier to get a grip on the responsibility that these financial institutions will take if a breach occurs. Of course, it is incumbent upon users to protect themselves with the latest antivirus software, anti-malware and ransomware programs for mobile and PC. But there are a host of other features available to users, including seeking out security certifications. For example, all payments processing companies should be protected with PCI certification. Other programs such as TRUSTe privacy seal program, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFEIC), and related security certifications are essential. Third-party verification is needed to ensure the security seals are compliant.
Ways to Beef Up Security – Here is What to Do to Protect Against Data Breaches
Two-factor authentication has proven to be the single best way to protect against data interception. This may include a username/password login and email verification code. Or, it can use a telephone verification code in tandem with the password login. While it is annoying to have to go through such a rigmarole for a financial app or banking login, it is the safest way to do so. On a personal level, it is best to avoid public banking, and to avoid public Wi-Fi since prying eyes are pervasive. One of the most common ways for security to be breached is phishing. This process involves a fake site masquerading as an authentic site requiring login information. Once a user clicks on the fake site, the malware is injected into the PC and sensitive personal information is captured. The best password manager programs include Keeper and Roboform.
To guard against malware, viruses, Trojans and phishing scams, it is a good idea to use effective password protection. These password manager programs isolate usernames and passwords in a secure, and encrypted program that requires password authentication. Experts advise users never to use the same username/password combination across all sites, financial apps, and programs. Any third-party interception of sensitive data would compromise the entire spectrum of banking-related data. Security consultants attest to the problem most users have when they are hacked: They use the same passwords for all online banking activity. This makes people easy targets for cyber criminals, since hackers do not expressly target financial sites; they target social media sites, email accounts and other easy pickings to gain access to banking-related information. Complacency is to be avoided at all costs.