Cyber and data security have long been areas of emphasis for community banks, but in today’s escalating digital environment, that focus has grown.
The rise in online interactions and massive amounts of data flowing over the web, has led to an uptick in fraudulent activity. Consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, a 70% increase over the prior year, according to the FTC.
As fraudsters evolve their techniques to find new ways to prey on consumers and small businesses, community banks like Forte Bank have continued to serve as our customer’s first line of defense by following industry standards and procedures to protect electronic systems, data applications, and networks from interference.
Our staff members also undergo routine cybersecurity training to spot and thwart attacks, but another essential weapon in the fight against cyber threats is an educated consumer.
Below is a curated list of best practices to help reduce your likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud:
- Enable the strongest multifactor authentication offered by our bank.
- Use unique passphrases as passwords and differentiate them across multiple platforms. Length surpasses complexity. A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long.
- Do a system check. Purge unused apps and outdated or sensitive information stored in old files and emails and ensure all software on internet-connected devices is current.
- Manage social media settings and minimize information sharing. Just a few data points can create a pathway for exploitation by cybercriminals.
- Use Wi-Fi judiciously: Limit the type of business conducted over public Wi-Fi connections, including logging in to key accounts like banking. When making purchases away from your home or work network, use a virtual private network or mobile hotspot.
Consumers can also make sure their account has not been compromised by taking the following steps to:
- Monitor account activity regularly for transaction irregularities and report discrepancies to us.
- Back up intellectual property and other digital information and store it safely so in the unfortunate event of a ransomware or other cyber threats you can retrieve the data.
- Read the fine print when purchasing items online. Do not save credit and debit card credentials on a merchant’s website or app, if prompted.
- Stay vigilant. Be mindful when shopping online and look for signs of illegitimate websites. Spelling or grammatical errors, missing contact information, and suspicious URLs or email addresses are all red flags.
- Look for special indicators such as web addresses with https:// that denote extra measures taken to help secure your information. URLS that end in .BANK are assigned for exclusive use by financial institutions.
Respond to a Data Breach
In the unfortunate event of a data breach, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure:
- Consider a security freeze on your credit report to restrict access to your credit file.
- Set up a fraud alert, which directs banks to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account.
- Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and to your local law enforcement and/or state attorney general.
Working together, we can take a bite out of cybercrime by shoring up our defenses.