When it comes to keeping your banking information safe, bigger may mean better.
A recent webinar sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group discussed the potential for security breaches at the nation's credit unions, focusing on one key figure from a 2011 Verizon security study: cyber thieves are concentrating on financial service organizations with 10 to 100 employees.
"Credit unions seem to fit the bill that cyber thieves are targeting," Ken Otsuka, a senior risk management consultant, said. "They are looking for the path of least resistance, which often leads to credit unions."
Big banks hold exponentially more information and money, but Otsuka argues that hackers prey on smaller players due to a perceived lack of high-end protection. The argument makes sense: if you want to steal something, take the path of seemingly least resistance. That being said, I don't think credit unions take banking security any less seriously. However, I do think it's easy for red flags to go unnoticed by a busy team of 15 employees managing the day-to-day activities of thousands of members.
While credit unions may make convenient targets for cyber criminals, we all know that big banks aren't immune to security flaws and data errors, either. Account numbers, email addresses and phone numbers may be stored and transmitted in ways that, unless you speak the language of security technologies, you won't understand. Otsuka's comments reinforce the need to do your research to determine how your financial institution, big or small, safeguards your information.
Regardless of what type of bank your money calls home, you can take a few additional steps to stay on high alert:
- Check your account balances daily – the sooner you're aware of any suspicious activity, the better off you'll be.
- Check your credit report regularly.
- Be wary of unsolicited emails.
What do you think? Do smaller institutions seem more susceptible to data hacking?