ICBA Offers Cybersecurity Tips to Help Safeguard Sensitive Data
Washington, D.C. (Oct. 5, 2021)— The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and the nation’s community banks are reminding consumers of simple actions they can take during Cybersecurity Awareness Month to safeguard sensitive data and keep their digital lives secure.
“Cyberattacks and threats are constantly evolving, with cybercrime as a whole up 600% since the start of the global pandemic,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. “As these attacks escalate, it is important that we all do our part to spot the warning signs and take preventative action. Community banks take this responsibility seriously and are working to strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity ecosystem, while ensuring that Americans have the information they need to stay cyber-safe.”
ICBA recommends consumers take the following precautionary measures to safeguard their private information to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud.
- Enable the strongest multi factor authentication (MFA) offered by your bank. Popular authentication methods include biometrics and separate authenticator apps. If MFA is available, enable it through a trusted mobile device, an authenticator app, or a secure token.
- Use unique passphrases as passwords and differentiate them across platforms. A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each account.
- 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 Purge unused apps and outdated or sensitive information stored in old files and emails and ensure all software on internet-connected devices is current. Sign up for automatic updates wen possible and protect devices with anti-virus software.
- Manage social media settings and minimize information sharing. Just a few data points can create a pathway for exploitation by cybercriminals. Disable location services that reveal your whereabouts at any given time.
- Use WiFi judiciously. Limit business activity conducted over open public WiFi connections, including logging in to key banking accounts. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative.
- Only download apps from trusted sources. Check your app permissions and use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use.
Consumers can also take preventative measures to avoid an account compromise by taking steps to:
- Regularly monitor account activity for transaction irregularities and report discrepancies to your financial institution immediately.
- 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 have a way to retrieve the data.
- Read the fine print when purchasing items online. If prompted, do not save credit and debit card information on the merchant’s website or app.
- Be mindful when shopping online and be on the lookout for illegitimate websites. Suspicious URLs and emails, spelling or grammatical errors, and missing contact information are 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.
Learn more about how to protect your digital life during Cybersecurity Awareness Month by visiting the Stay Safe Online website. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #BeCyberSmart.
The Independent Community Bankers of America® creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.
With nearly 50,000 locations nationwide, community banks constitute 99 percent of all banks, employ more than 700,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Holding more than $5.8 trillion in assets, over $4.8 trillion in deposits, and more than $3.5 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers’ dreams in communities throughout America. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org