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[August 31, 2014]
The Philadelphia Inquirer Web Wealth column [The Philadelphia Inquirer :: ]
(Philadelphia Inquirer (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 31--Reports of a major data breach at JPMorgan and other banks -- possibly by Russian hackers -- puts in question the security of customer accounts. What's a consumer to do? Infosecurity magazine runs through the possible methods of the hackers and what the fallout might be. "The FBI has called the skill associated with the attack 'far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers,' leading many to conclude that the action was state-sponsored," writes reporter Tara Seals. The cold implication: "Without significant change in strategy, ultimate resistance to high-level attacks is, well, futile."
Massive bank hacks are more dangerous than recent high-profile retail-store data thefts, says this Credit.com post. "If someone gains access to and drains your bank account, you may find yourself without the means to pay essential bills, like student loans, utilities, or your mortgage, which is not only damaging to your livelihood but also to your credit standing," writes Christine DiGangi. "You are often the last line of defense between ill-intentioned hackers and your financial information, so checking it from a variety of angles -- account monitoring, credit reports, credit scores -- will help you minimize the negative impact of an attack."
Steps for consumers to safeguard accounts include being forewarned about "phishing" -- attempts by crooks to get account information by, for example, pretending to be the bank and sending you an e-mail asking you for account information. "Banks and other financial institutions do not send e-mails asking customers to input their account information, verify account data, or update their records," says this post at usatoday.com. In addition, keep a close eye on your statement and get in touch with the bank the moment you see a problem.
Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer of Trend Micro, told CNN Money the threat to banks of the alleged Russian hacks are immense, and could have given the bad guys power to wipe out a bank's entire network, in addition to exposing customer accounts. "Plus, criminals could have the banks' investment playbooks," this CNN Money piece says.
NerdWallet.com, a personal-finance site that offers to be "the nerdy friend you can count on and trust," says people shouldn't wait for the bank to notify them of a problem. In light of the recent news of a massive cyber attack, you probably ought to change your bank account passwords, just in case. Blogger Teddy Nykiel advises other steps, too, and notes it can take banks weeks to notify customers.
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