How to Help Banking Customers Navigate the Spooky Truths of Security

spooky security halloween woods For decades, traditional banking security concerns revolved around surveillance cameras, vault security systems and educating customers on being aware of their surroundings when using an ATM machine. Now, it’s a whole different pumpkin patch — or is it?

As the banking industry continues to undergo its digital transformation while maintaining its physical presence (for now), security concerns haven’t drastically changed; they’ve simply widened in scope to include digital security measures. But with consistent coverage of data hacking and security breaches, the world of digital banking can appear extra spooky to some customers.

However, as entire industries continue to digitize in order to match the world around them, the focus of branch security is beginning to look a lot like digital banking security — namely because many traditional banking transactions, such as depositing a check or even chatting with a teller, are becoming increasingly digital. As a result of these digital transactions, branch security now also involves data storage/transit, proper customer authentication and educating users on security best practices.

And while cybersecurity remains a top concern for most industries today, in banking and finance it’s considered the garlic that keeps many of the vampires away in 2016. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s annual report in May, breaches within the banking/financial industry dropped by 73 percent in 2016 — which is good news for customers hoping to find more treats than tricks.

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However, it remains vital for banks to keep cybersecurity efforts top-of-mind by properly encrypting their systems, staying on top of password trends and helping to guide their customers toward smart digital banking habits. So take a break from carving this year’s jack-o’-lantern, and carve out some time to brush up on the following areas of security before getting caught in a cybersecurity nightmare.

Not-so-eerie Encryption

While many view cybersecurity through the lens of file encryption, it should involve much more than that. Completely securing customers’ digital transactions means encrypting everything in transit and at rest, down to the application level. Although this may seem extreme, it’s a necessary part of the security conversation; soon it will be important to encrypt down to the network session as well. Especially as digital transactions become more focused on customer engagement, banks need to begin thinking about voice encryption and securing video sessions. However, before trying to deploy these innovations in engagement and security, many banks will need to reassess their legacy architecture to make sure it’s able to handle the latest advancements.

Petrifyingly Easy Password Changes

With technology advancing as quickly as it has, the cybersecurity practices from 2010 are not the same as they are today (or will be 10 years from now). A prime example of this is the password trend. Despite continued industry conversation around regularly updating passwords as a way to ensure user security, 2016 research from the Federal Trade Commission found that requiring users to regularly update their passwords actually made the passwords less secure. Why? Since people are repeatedly required to change their passwords, they often do not choose strong passwords to begin with and are more likely to write them down. They also begin to form predictable patterns when updating their passwords.

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As a result, it’s important to remember to stay up-to-date on the latest security research — and, in this case, encourage branch professionals and customers to pick a complex password (or phrase with numbers and symbols) from the start and only change it if they believe it has been stolen, seen by an onlooker or submitted to a phishing website.

Guidance to Avoid Ghoulish Practices

Lastly, it’s important for banks to continue to educate their customers on the latest security best practices — such as not changing their password so often — especially as these practices continue to evolve. Sites such as Bankrate and Nerdwallet have both released lists about the role consumers play in their own digital banking security. Here are some key points for banks to instruct customers to keep in mind:

  • Only access digital banking accounts from a secure home Wi-Fi network
  • Don’t use the same password on other accounts
  • Avoid clicking links on emails claiming to be from their bank

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