Cybersecurity Insight

Online Banking: How Safe Are Your Hard-Earned Dollars?

8 Mar

Online banking, or simply transferring money from one online entity to another – whether through an application or website, on your mobile device or desktop computer – has become the norm. Don’t have time to go to the bank to deposit a paper check? Not a problem! Most online banking apps allow you to deposit them digitally by taking a photo. As banking becomes digital, cyber security concerns eventually come to the forefront of the discussion.

TechCrunch posted an article about a new disruptor in the online banking world – Checkbook is the creation of PJ Gupta, the former chief architect behind Visa’s network, and allows users to send a certain number of digital checks for free via email. Those that benefit the most are companies – individuals just have to deal with paying for postage and envelopes when sending a check via snail mail. Businesses deal with this overhead cost plus the amount it takes to issue the check through their brick and mortar bank (the price range is anywhere from $7 – $16). And with over 19 Billion checks sent in 2013 alone, that’s a lot of paper, time and money being spent. Checkbook cuts out the miscellaneous costs and allows businesses to send their digital checks directly to the inbox of their choosing. But what happens if it gets caught in the Spam folder? Will they get their money back if it is somehow intercepted by those with malicious intent? Sure, Checkbook may just be a startup but it’s also a startup that is asking users to trust them with their company’s money, or individual funds.

Unfortunately, hackers can get into websites and steal money and data connected to funds, with the IRS being a prime example. While it is wishful thinking that the IRS wouldn’t be the topic of conversation again this time of year, it’s sad to say that not much has changed. Reported on Twitter and by various other sources, the IRS announced that hackers were able to infiltrate their systems once again this January. The target? E-file personal identification numbers which are sometimes used to submit tax returns electronically by individuals. Over 464,000 SSNs were utilized to gain approximately 101,000 E-file PIN numbers; granted those SSNs were stolen in a previous sting but who’s counting. While this attack didn’t allow hackers to steal money directly from users, it did something much worse in giving away the very information that is needed to function in this 21st century society.

Both of these organizations have one thing in common – you can protect your identity and funds on top of the protection they afford to you as a user.

  • Assess the cyber security of all your devices – what firewalls do you have in place? Is a VPN available to use while you’re on the Internet?
  • Set account notifications for any online banking so you are alerted to any distinguishing or unusual activity.
  • Be wary of notifications and messages that look even slightly suspicious; check the return address or contact the provider in question to confirm their identity.

At the end of the day attacks will happen, but with hot, new applications coming up every day that promise to make a business’s life easier, or the now almost yearly threat of an attack on your IRS return, it’s good to make sure that your information is guarded as much as possible in order to protect your funds.