Take Charge of Your Cyber-Security in 2016

January 20, 2016 • Author: Denise Maines, Salin Bank Security Officer

Fraud. It’s just a five-letter word, but it can wreak a lifetime of financial and emotional havoc on consumers and business owners alike.
 
Thanks to new innovations in technology, today’s cybercriminals are more sophisticated and daring than ever.  Stories of “data breaches” are now common fodder in the news. And no industry is immune. Recent scams have affected healthcare providers, higher education, government, financial firms, telecommunications, automotive dealers, and large retailers.
 
According to the Theft Resource Center, 781 data breaches and the exposure of 170 million sensitive personal records were reported in 2015. Among the major attacks were those against Anthem, Premara, the Internal Revenue Service, T-Mobile, and the Office of Personnel Management.
 
Now there’s another twist occurring in the barrage of data breaches and scams: financial threats targeting mobile devices. In 2015, Kaspersky Lab, a global cyber-security firm, found that for the first time this type of cyber-threat became one of the top 10 malicious programs designed to steal your money.
 
Another alarming trend is the rapid spread of ransomware. Kaspersky Lab detected this in 200 countries and territories last year. An earlier report by the Government Accountability Office reiterates those conclusions. It findings showed a dramatic increase - 185 percent in a period of just one year - in the number of threats to the security of mobile devices and the information they store and process.
 
It should come as no surprise that cybercriminals are focusing their time and resources on devising malicious financial programs for mobile devices. Every day, millions of people and businesses use mobile applications to pay bills, transfer money, and keep on top of their finances. That’s why it’s more important than ever to remain vigilant about keeping your mobile devices safe from financial cyber-scammers.
 
So what can be done to secure mobile devices? Using strong, hard-to-guess passwords for both your mobile device and your mobile banking app is one way to step up your cyber-security. Experts also suggest that you bypass any auto-saving features for your login information. Typing in a password every time you use your phone or app provides an added layer of security and is worth it in the long run. Remember the importance of changing passwords - and not sharing them. Finally, it’s always a good idea to check your financial accounts on a regular basis, and don’t forget to log off after your session is complete.
 
The good news is the majority of banks, including Salin Bank, have top-notch security features, advanced encryption, and monitoring technology with their mobile apps that can't be built into mobile browsers.
 
For small business owners, there are several precautions you should take to help reduce your vulnerability to cyber-thieves. Cyber-security for any company, large or small, is a team effort, so employee education needs to be a priority. Talk to your employees about ID theft and data breach risks. It’s also wise to create, test and update your business' written information security and governance policies annually, including penetration testing and simulated data-breach events.
 
The bottom line: The best defense against any type of cyber-fraud is to be cyber-prepared!