Scam warning: Over half of financial firms hit by data breach – how to protect your money

Banks, government bodies and various other sectors were examined recently by the electrical systems giant Thales. In their 2020 Data Threat Report, the company looked into how various sectors are embracing digital transformations and if they’re coping with the challenges this brings.


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Unfortunately, some of the worlds most trusted institutions are failing in his area at worrying rates.

On an aggregated scale, half of all data produced is stored in cloud environments but astonishingly, almost half (47 percent) of organisations experienced a breach or failed a compliance audit in the past year.

The figures are worse for financial services firms specifically, with 54 percent experiencing a data breach or failed compliance audit over the previous year.

This problem could be made worse by the financial industries attitudes towards technological security.

IBM, the American multinational technology company, recently produced a report on date breaches for 2019.

Focusing again on financial services, they reported that 70 percent of financial services organisations felt very/extremely secure with their new technology deployments.

The difference between the reality of the situation and how financial service firms think they are performing indicates that trouble may lie ahead.

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Taking these facts not consideration, it may be the case that consumers themselves will need to ramp up responsibility for their own digital security issues.

As Paul Hampton, a Payment Security Expert for Thales advises:”As well as the banks, consumers themselves also have a responsibility to maintain vigilance over their own financial data and take the necessary steps to protect it. To begin, close any unused accounts you may have, for example old savings accounts. This ensures that you minimise the number of organisations who are in possession of your data and can more easily keep track of them.

“Next, sign up for one of the free credit reporting tools and ensure that the accounts and details which are listed are correct. Some services provide alerts should any credit applications be made in your name.

“Consumers should also use a password manager to hold details of the many and various online accounts you have. Its capabilities allows you to use strong unique passwords for every financial account and don’t have to be online accounts either, you can store security details for branch or telephone accounts also.

“Finally, customers should always activate their banks’ multi-factor authentication offering for online banking if available to them, with the use of biometrics on smartphones for example.”


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Resisting a shift to digital services may not help the situation either, as he continued: “There is a general trend towards online banking in all its forms and digital services are increasingly the point of competition between financial services companies. This does mean that some of the best rates are only available in online products.

“Additionally, physical branches are being repositioned for more advanced financial services where face to face interaction is needed, such as mortgage advice.

“But, whilst consumers may not be forced to move to online banking, a mixture of dwindling numbers of physical branches and better interest rates available in online products will inevitably push consumers to online financial services products.”

Somewhat paradoxically, a shift towards some digital element may actually be beneficial for the elderly and those approaching retirement who may find it difficult to remember specific codes or passwords.

Here, new technology may actually be a blessing, as Paul explains: “Through the creation of new authentication technologies, such as facial recognition and fingerprint, banks are making moves to be more inclusive to their customers, particularly the elderly. This brings security to a higher level of convenience enabling those that find remembering codes etc difficult the chance to authenticate using their own bodies instead. So rather than being excluded as banks embrace a more digital focus, the elderly will find access and protecting their assets easier.”

As a general rule of thumb Paul details that learning the ins and outs of new technologies will be the best method of protecting yourself from their pitfalls.

It may also protect individuals from the risk of online scammers and/or hackers as he concludes: “Whilst there are no hard and fast rules, the best way is likely to be to embrace some of the new technology to take advantage of the benefits it can bring. While you’re learning, it’s important to maintain a trust-but-verify approach, and continually monitoring your credit reports for example.

“Along with some of the tips shared above, The Payment Council’s website provides internet banking security advice to consumers and is a great place to start.”

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