Nowadays, hackers employ a variety of techniques to compromise financial security and exploit vulnerabilities.

It’s essential to know the most common methods they use to steal sensitive information.

Luckily, keeping on top of your cybersecurity needs is easier than you may think In this article, we share the five ways cybercriminals can attempt to steal your sensitive information of bank and tips that will help keep your financial data safe from being breached at all times

Phishing Attacks

Hackers impersonate trusted entities, such as banks or government agencies, and send fraudulent emails or messages in the hopes of getting you to take the bait. This is called phishing.

Phishing is successful for hackers because messages often look innocent and realistic enough and contain links or attachments that, when clicked, will install malware on your device or redirect you to fake websites designed to steal your login credentials.

How to avoid it:

  • Always verify the sender’s email address before clicking on anything.
  • Never click on suspicious links or download attachments from unknown sources.
  • Use email filtering tools to detect phishing attempts.

 Weak Passwords

Weak or easily guessable passwords are a goldmine for hackers. Recent research suggests that more than 80% of confirmed breaches happen because of weak or reused passwords. 

They can use brute force attacks or exploit known vulnerabilities to gain access to your accounts – all because of a flimsy password.

How to avoid it:

  • Use strong, unique passwords for each online account.
  • Look into a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.
  • Familiarize yourself with multi-factor authentication (MFA) and enable it whenever possible.

3. Public Wi-Fi Networks

There’s no doubt about it: public Wi-Fi networks are extremely handy, but they are often unsecured, making it easy for hackers to intercept the data transmissions of those logged in. 

Hackers exploit this by using methods like spyware to eavesdrop on your online activities and capture sensitive information, such as login credentials and financial transactions.

How to avoid it:

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi for certain (sensitive/private) transactions.
  • Don’t log in to a public network without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Make sure your Wi-Fi home is password-protected and uses WPA3 encryption.

4. Malware & Ransomware

Another common tactic hackers use is malware, including ransomware, which infects a device when you download malicious software or visit compromised websites. Once infected, your financial data may be stolen or held hostage until you pay a ransom (hence the name).

These threats are so common that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 3,729 complaints about ransomware attacks in 2021 alone. Those attacks accounted for financial losses of $49.2 million. 

How to avoid it:

  • Good-quality, legitimate antivirus and anti-malware software.
  • Software updates to install the latest security patches.
  • Caution when downloading files or clicking on pop-up ads.

5. Data Breaches

Most companies will store the financial information of their clients, which can put them (and ultimately you – the customer) at risk of suffering data breaches by exposing your sensitive data to cybercriminals. 

These breaches occur due to lax security measures or cyberattacks on the organization’s systems. A recent example would be the fashion retailer Forever 21 – they revealed that a staggering 500,000 customers were affected by a data breach that occurred earlier this year. 

Names, dates of birth, bank account information, and Social Security numbers were accessed by an unauthorized third party – make sure yours aren’t included.

How to avoid it:

  • Monitor your financial accounts regularly for unauthorized activity.
  • Enable transaction alerts for your credit cards and bank accounts.
  • Consider freezing your credit to prevent unauthorized credit inquiries.

Online Safety & Tools for Protection

Ensuring your online safety is paramount in safeguarding your financial data. Here are three essential tools to consider:

  1. Explore Virtual Private Networks. Using a VPN like the Surfshark app encrypts your internet connection, making it more challenging for hackers to intercept your data. These are particularly useful when accessing a public network. 
  2. Use a password manager to generate strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts, reducing the risk of password-related breaches.
  3. Use 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) to get two forms of verification, such as a password and a one-time code sent to your phone, before accessing your accounts, keeping hackers at bay.

Final Thoughts

Cybersecurity breaches are a threat to all of us, so protecting our financial data from cybercrime is a must.

Our best defense is understanding the common methods used by cybercriminals and implementing robust security practices and tools. 

By doing so, you can significantly reduce the risk of your financial data being breached.