EMV is Here: Tips & Tricks You Need to Know

October 7, 2015
/   Insights

The EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) shift went into effect on October 1, 2015 and a majority of large retailers and merchants have upgraded POS terminals to accept EMV chip cards. Despite this new mandate,...

FI Highlight: BankMobile

October 2, 2015
/   Spotlight

Financial institutions that aren’t developing and catering to the wants and needs of younger demographics are missing out on huge opportunities for growth. Luvleen Sidhu, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at BankMobile, spoke with...

EMV Liability Shift: Are You Ready?

September 28, 2015

The talking is nearly over for the US payments industry as October 1st sees the all-important EMV liability shift. Chip cards are being issued to consumers and merchants are upgrading their point of sale...

The 5 Most Dangerous Mobile Banking Habits

September 14, 2015
/   Voices

Mobile banking grows more ubiquitous every year. 52 percent of smartphone owners with a bank account use mobile banking, according to the Federal Reserve, and more than half of users log in at least...

The Case for CSR

September 7, 2015

The demise of a New York City law shouldn’t stop good works

FI Highlight: Nusenda Credit Union

September 1, 2015
/   Spotlight

While it is important for banks and credit unions to consider the needs of consumers, it’s also important for FIs to take employee needs into consideration as well. Michelle Dearholt, SVP of Human Resources at Nusenda...

Is a .bank Domain Right for Your Bank?

August 28, 2015
/   Voices

With the general availability of the .bank registry under way, more than 5,500 applications from over 2,200 banks have already taken place, according to fTLD Registry Services.

Can Smartphones Solve ATM Skimming

/   Insights

ATM skimming remains a big business for organized crime rings. According to a recent article in ATMMarketplace.com, card skimming accounted for more than $2 billion in losses. One new approach that banks are exploring...

Cause and Effect: If you build it, will they come?

July 23, 2014
/   Spotlight

Many financial institutions assume that digital banking is lucrative because the most valuable customers happen to bank online. While there is certainly a correlation between online bankers and higher profitability, quantitative evidence suggests that...

Fast Facts: Student Loans

January 22, 2013
/   Insights

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast...

Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services

April 11, 2011
/   Insights

Today, Intuit released the latest edition of the Intuit 2020 report, Intuit 2020 Report: The Future of Financial Services, which identifies and examines four key trend areas that will  transform the financial services industry...

The Top 10 Trends in the Digital Banking Industry

December 18, 2013
/   Spotlight

2014 is rapidly approaching and as the year wraps, the Digital Insight team has pulled together the top 10 trends in the digital banking industry based on data and trends from studying financial institutions....

Making Banking Fun: Gamification in Financial Services

August 5, 2013
/   Insights

Recently, the Banking.com team sat in on American Banker’s webinar, “Gamification in Financial Services: Five Proven Ways to Get an Edge,” which shared how leading brands in financial services have applied gamification to reach...

Small Business: Perception vs. Reality

November 21, 2012
/   Insights

In the most recent election cycle, like most others before it, the one sector of the economy that got the most attention was small business.  This is the future, we were told by every...

Technology M&As: The Beats Go On

May 29, 2014
/   Insights

The ongoing fascination with Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics is entirely understandable, because it’s a cool story. However, it also says a lot about what’s going on between finance and tech.

What We’re Reading

May 5, 2011
/   Spotlight

Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below. Virtual Banking Worlds Provide Tangible Lessons American...

What We’re Reading: Thanksgiving Edition

November 22, 2012
/   Spotlight

Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet @bankingdotcom. Mobile Thursday? Plans for Thanksgiving...

Not too long ago, the New York Times reported that a collection of Russian thieves collected a stash of Internet account credentials totaling 1.2 billion user names and password combinations, and 500 million email addresses taken from 420,000 websites. The attack vector employed by the cybercriminals was believed to be spam – the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.

Contributor, James W. Gabberty

Contributor, James W. Gabberty

Estimates vary, but a rough calculation of 7 trillion spam attacks occur annually, and the costs associated with lower worker productivity and fraud are borne mostly by the general public, not to mention the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who must increase the bandwidth of their messaging systems to accommodate the increased messages transmitted associated with this deluge of phishing activity.

Unless you are a Luddite, the odds that your online credentials have been compromised are extremely high, even if you typically take defensive measures to keep from becoming a victim of Russian cyber criminals.

That said, have you ever wondered just how your credentials got lifted or how your computer became infected with malware, despite taking every possible precaution to prevent this from happening?

One reason we all have likely fallen prey to the cyber thieves is because we surf the web as system administrators; that is, when we initially set up our login information on our own personal devices, we deliberately established our user accounts as ‘administrators’ instead of ‘standard’ users. The difference between the two is that standard users are not permitted to perform tasks such as installing software, altering system configurations and changing file permissions of programs and log files. Administrators, on the other hand, have the power to do anything they want, such as installing new programs, making files ‘hidden’ from the operating system and most precariously, enabling the operating system itself to fall prey to a particular kind of malware known as rootkits. Rootkits embed themselves so deeply into your system that many anti-virus checkers are unable to even detect them, effectively hijacking your system without your ever knowing that it succumbed to an attack.

By surfing the internet as administrator-level users, we are granting every program that we run – from videos on YouTube to mail attachments to nefarious programs embedded into seemingly legitimate web addresses – to run programs on the computer with the highest privilege level available. Hackers take advantage of the fact that most surf the web as administrators from private computers often used to conduct financial transactions from various accounts (credit card, debit, equity, and loan accounts to name a few) and plant malware at every location we are likely to visit.

If you are someone who regularly surfs the Internet with an administrator account, your system has likely already been compromised, and the only sure-fire way to get rid of the active (and dormant) malware sitting inside your machine is to format your drive(s) and reinstall everything from scratch. Using system backups are generally not a good idea since they themselves may contain malware that has been previously backed up.

So, after taking measures to ensure you start with a ‘clean’ system, the safest way to prevent more than 90% of the identity theft that occurs annually is to immediately perform 4 simple steps:

1)      Set up an ‘administrator’ account using some innocuous login ID composed of random numbers and letters (r7DHm3oK6, for example) and an associated password with a similar random character composition between, say 8 – 12 characters. Use that administrator account to ONLY install new programs and configure system devices such as printers and wireless connections to trusted routers & switches.

2)      Set up another account for everyday use using the same credentialing methodology, making sure that it is set up as a ‘standard user’ to ensure that malware access attempts are thwarted without the necessary privileges.

3)      Change your password on any account that matters to you, employing the same technique of establishing a password that cannot be guessed easily using brute-force methods.

4)      Install a full suite of anti-virus software with Internet scanning that you update each day to ensure your system is protected at maximum levels.

Having done each of the steps outlined above, you can rest easy that your banking sessions stay safe; after all, even if the bad guys have your old password, it does them no good since you changed it to a much stronger – and newer – authentication method.  Changing your logon ID is one more step that can be added to the protective measures but, whatever you do, don’t surf as administrators.


James Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.



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James W. Gabberty

Gabberty is a professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute, he has served as an expert witness in telecommunication and information security at the federal and state levels and holds numerous certifications from SANS & ISACA.

Brad Strothkamp


Marisa Mann

Marisa Mann brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.

Zachary Ehrlich

25-year-old writer, and as a native San Franciscan, I am unreasonably loyal to Bank of America, if only for their superhero-like origin story, involving the 1906 earthquake and Italian fruit vendors.