5 Ways to Protect Your Finances Online

Financial companies continue to innovate with their online products and services, bringing conveniences for customers, but challenges when it comes to security.

This is because the current “fintech” (financial technology) landscape doesn’t just include traditional banks with online services. New players, like cryptocurrency sites, robo advisors and online loan providers have all joined the party. Regulations simply haven’t kept up, leaving security concerns up to the individual providers, and the consumers who use them.

To deal with issues like protecting customers’ data, privacy, and transactions, today’s fintech companies often use a patchwork of security software and tools. A recent survey found that many major financial service providers use between 100 and 200 disparate security solutions[1]. And these solutions rarely share threat intelligence. This can leave security teams overwhelmed, and customer information more vulnerable to data leaks and hacking.

In fact, research released earlier this year revealed that hackers are using “hidden tunnels” in the infrastructure used to transmit data between financial applications to conceal theft. This means that breaches could go weeks or months without detection, all while customer information is exposed.

Underscoring the problem, the financial services industry was recently named the most targeted sector for cyber attacks for the second year in a row. And, cyber attacks reported to the Financial Conduct Authority grew 80% in the last year.

This isn’t hard to believe given that last year seven of the U.K.’s largest banks, including Santander and HSBC, were forced to reduce operations or shut down systems all together after they were targeted in a coordinated denial of service (DoS) attack aimed at flooding servers with traffic.

Even though new regulations, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, are aimed at helping companies reduce security risks, and even fine them for privacy violations, there are still challenges when it comes to finding integrated solutions.

This means consumers have to be vigilant when it comes to protecting their money and information.

Here are 5 tips to protect your online finances:

  • Monitor your financial accounts & credit report—Regularly check your online bank statements and credit card accounts for any suspicious transactions.

    You’ll also want to review your credit scores once a quarter to make sure that no new accounts were opened in your name, without your permission. Check to see if your bank or credit card company offers free credit monitoring. You might also consider investing in an identity protection service, since these often include credit monitoring and will even reimburse you in the case of identity fraud or theft.

  • Use multi-layered security and alerts—Take advantage of advanced security tools if your providers offer them, such as multi-factor authentication. (Multi-factor means you provide two or more pieces of information to verify your identity before you can login to your account, such as typing a password and responding to a text message sent to your smartphone.)

    Also, many companies now offer free text or email alerts when a new charge is made, or when a change is made to any account information. Sign up for these to help monitor your accounts.

  • Do your homework—Before using a new financial service, make sure to research the Read other user’s reviews, and look into whether the company uses tools like encryption and multi-factor authentication to safeguard your data.
  • Don’t give away too much personal information—When we quickly sign up for accounts, sharing bank or identity information, we make it easy for the bad guys. Only share information that is absolutely necessary for the service you want to use.

  • Use comprehensive security—Just as fintech companies need to do their part, you have to do your part by using comprehensive security software.

    Make sure that all of your computers and devices are protected, including IoT devices. You may also want to look into new solutions that provide security at the network level.

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[1] Closing the Cybersecurity Gaps in Financial Services, a global survey from Ovum and sponsored by McAfee

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