How to Survive a Cyber-Attack

This week, an iconic financial institution’s data breach made the news and piqued our interest. This is noteworthy when you consider that the Identity Theft Resource Center’s data breach report has surpassed the 500 mark. It was reported that some of the major banks, including JP Morgan and Chase, suffered a cyber-attack. While there has not been much information released about what was exposed in the breach or even whose information was threatened, it is confirmed that there has been a breach, and that means you may be affected. Here are some tips to help protect yourself, until more is known about this particular situation:

Change Your Passwords

While we understand that we sound like a broken record when it comes to how often we keep singing this tune, it’s still of key importance. If the cybercriminals were able to gather your user credentials, they can log into your financial accounts and wreak all kinds of havoc. Just changing your password will make the information they have basically useless, leaving your financial accounts safe from the hackers.

Look out for Phishing Emails

Following big events like these, cybercriminals, generally unrelated to those who committed the initial act, will often begin to send out emails en masse, posing as your financial institution and asking for your personally identifying information (PII). Even those who would otherwise be leery of a phishing email may do a quick Google search to see if their bank had suffered from the attack and may find one of the many stories making headlines. The scammers know that these stories will help convince consumers that their financial institution has suffered from a breach, and they will, therefore, be more likely to go ahead with the process. If you get an email that looks like it is from your financial institution, pick up a phone and call them. Be sure that you use the number from the back of one of your cards rather than any number in the email, as that may already have been run by the scammers as well.

Monitor Your Accounts

While you should be monitoring your financial accounts regularly, now would be a very good time to be diligent about it. Don’t just be on the lookout for large purchases or your account being drained. Keep an eye on every purchase, no matter how small, and if something isn’t right on your statement, call your bank immediately and report it. Most financial institutions only have a certain window of time during which you can report fraud on your account and limit your liability. The specific time for each account may be different, but you should be able to find it in your banking product contract. Make sure that you are keeping a watchful eye to be sure you don’t miss this window of time.

While it does seem like every week brings us yet another massive breach, taking some of these small protective measures will help protect you and your information. There is no need to panic, and making these small initiatives a part of your normal routine can go a long way to help make sure your money stays where it needs to be.