Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thrifty Thinking: Outsmarting Cyber Criminals

Recently, an international hacking ring stole as much as $1 billion dollars from more than 100 banks in 30 countries in one of the largest banking breaches in history. In this instance, hackers used phishing schemes targeted at bank employees to gather information on bank operations and used it to create fake accounts then transfer the stolen funds. While banks were targeted in this massive attack, cyber criminals will likely not be abandoning attacks on average consumers anytime soon.

As criminals become savvier and develop more creative ways to steal, consumers must stay on top of protecting their financial assets from new methods of thievery. Here are a few tips on how bank accounts can be protected:

1.) Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Have separate accounts with separate banks just in case one gets breached. Then, all of your resources are not in danger. It is wise to have a checking account with just has enough funds to cover bills due for the month. Money designated for savings, investing or other uses should be kept in separate accounts. Obviously this is a lot of work to manage but it offers much stronger protection than only having a single checking account and savings account.

2.) Stop using debit cards. Replace them with credit cards that offer stronger protection against immediate financial loss. A breached debit card can drain checking accounts causing checks to bounce, automatic bill payments to fail, etc. Ultimately this can create a world of work to dispute and fix these problems and the fees that instantly appear.

3.) Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication. If your bank offers two-factor authentication, use it! It will send you a text message with a one-time use password to log into your bank account. Combined with your regular password this is rock solid protection. While this will not protect you if your bank is hacked into, it will certainly make sure you are not the reason your information is stolen.

4.) Stay vigilant against scams/phishing attempts. The information age has brought us tremendous convenience but also gives hackers and scammers a convenient way to compromise thousands if not millions of accounts with ease. Any time you receive an unexpected phone call or email, do not give out your information. Hang up, hit delete and call your financial institution directly.

5.) Check loyalty at the door. It might be nostalgic or convenient to have the same bank, checks, pin code, etc. that you have had since your first job, but it could be a massive security mistake. You need to make sure you have the right partners in your financial life and security needs to be high on the list of requirements for that relationship. Liability protection is the first step in protecting you from hackers. If money leaves your account and it was not you, it should be instantly credited back to you, no questions or long delays, and no penalties or fees on bounced payments. A bank’s security protections should also be high on your list, do they offer two-factor authentication on your account? If not, they are behind the times.

For more information about protecting your security and privacy online, visit: or follow @PrivateShaun on Twitter.

About PrivateGiant
PrivateGiant is a technology firm dedicated to restoring privacy to online communications for the individual and enterprises. Its easy-to-use solutions deliver top-level security protection for text messages, emails, and messages sent or posted on social media and other public forums. PrivateGiant protects everyday communications from the moment they are sent or posted until they reach the designated recipient for decoding. Visit for additional information.

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