4 Steps to Greater Cyber Security

Mark Van Divner, Chief Information Security Officer, First Republic Bank
October 16, 2014

Mark Van Divner first joined First Republic in 2010 as the head of Information Security and Business Continuity. He has over 25 years of broad-based experience in the implementation and management of global Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and security at Fortune 100 companies. 

Protecting Clients and Country

The business of cybercrime costs consumers more than $100 billion annually. With information increasingly moving to the cloud, how can you even begin to protect your data? Awareness and constant vigilance is critical. Oftentimes, highly publicized cyber-attacks spur individuals into action, but once the story falls out of the headlines, the sense of urgency fades. It’s important to know how to protect against and respond to threats.

1. Arm yourself with available tools

Whenever working with a financial institution, ask about the tools and resources available to help monitor online banking activity and prevent fraud. Many banks offer complimentary security software. First Republic offers Trusteer Rapport security software, and our online banking support will assist with installing it. If you’re a client with security concerns, please consult with a relationship manager, who can direct you to our resources or to a free Internet Security Health Check.

2. Change your passwords regularly

Be proactive about changing passwords to email and financial accounts, and use different passwords for each. Recycling passwords is a common practice, but it creates more opportunity for thieves. Once in an email account, for instance, hackers can look for bank information, credentials and even conversations that will assist them in manipulating your friends, family or financial institutions to divulge confidential information. This is also known as social engineering.

Consider using software that creates and tracks random passwords, or create a personal algorithm to make the hacker's job more difficult. Another option is to engage two-step authentication on your accounts. Several email providers and social media sites offer this additional layer of security, but the onus is on you to activate it. Here is a guide on enabling popular services. Take a few minutes and do it today!

3. Be prepared to take action

If, despite adopting best security practices, you find that your email account has been compromised, be prepared with a plan to minimize the potential damage. Keep a checklist handy of immediate action steps:

  • If you haven’t already done so, download and run security software like Trusteer Rapport on each computer used for online banking transactions.
  • Before changing any passwords, update your security software and run a malware/virus scan to identify and remove any infectious programs or worms; repeat this process for every computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone that has been used for email. 
  • Change your email password and delete all “Trash” messages.
  • Review and delete out-of-date or unnecessary auto-forwarding rules, should you have established these in your personal email system.
  • First Republic Bank clients may contact a representative for a free Internet Security Health Check.
  • Contact and notify all other banks with which you do business, and follow any additional recommendations.

4. Make vigilance a habit 

Set aside time on a regular basis to review activity on your financial accounts. Monitoring your balances and transactions can alert you to fraudulent activity. Immediate notification by the customer is critical to allow banks to identify and recall fraudulent funds electronically transferred out of an account.

Banks typically have a 60-day window to identify and recall fraudulent funds electronically transferred out of a consumer account, but immediate notification on your part is critical.

Cyber security requires participation by industry and consumers alike. Take steps to implement proper controls to avoid becoming a victim, and keep abreast of the systems and tools available to make security second nature. By taking an active role in maintaining the integrity of your online accounts, you’ll be better prepared to safeguard your personal information and assets.