We know that cyber-attacks are on the rise. The latest estimates reveal that it could cost the global economy $3 trillion by the year 2020. I spoke with Michael Gastauer, the CEO of WB21 about banking security and the need for entrepreneurs to protect the money they may have just raised.
AJ: Thank you for joining me today. Could you start by educating my readers on what WB21 does?
Gastauer: Absolutely. WB21 is a real-time account opening platform for private and business clients. Our users get up to 4 checking accounts in different currencies. Each account comes with a MasterCard Debit Card. Users have the power to send money to recipients in multiple countries. We currently operate in 18 currencies with the option to send money to 180 countries. At the same time, our goal is to make sure this can be done in a way that's safe. This is why WB21 is fully PCI DSS 3.0 certified and uses the latest security tools to protect our customers money.
AJ: Indeed. You are likely well aware of the risks entrepreneurs face when they raise money and have significant funds in their bank accounts. What would your number one piece of advice be for entrepreneurs in this situation?
Gastauer: My main piece of advice would be to always diversify your funds. Keep your business money separate from your private money, and split your business money on several accounts with multiple banks. In the early stages of turning an idea into reality, many entrepreneurs decide it's best to not open a business account yet. This is a mistake because you need to protect your business funds from exposure to daily threats caused by online banking or card fraud. You should have at least two separate business accounts, one that can be used for daily spending linked with your Debit Card (typically a checking account) and a 2nd account for holding larger amounts that has no cards or online banking linked to it.
If you keep a greater portion of any money raised in an account you only use for one or two transactions every month, e.g. to transfer money over to your checking account, the chances of being hacked are much lower. Even something as simple as withdrawing from an ATM exposes you to risk.
AJ: How do scammers manage to gain access to your money through your card or online banking login?
Gastauer: It really depends on where you use it. Physically, there are many devices that can simply take your card details when you use a tapped ATM or read your card data if the card has a chip for NFC. But for most entrepreneurs they suffer attacks when operating online. This is because they don't take proper precautions when using their cards to make purchases.
Some entrepreneurs have even been known to store their card details somewhere in their smart phones, email accounts or on their laptops. Fraudsters can gain access to this information.
AJ: What are the main ways hackers can steal your card or online banking details through the Internet?
Gastauer: There are two main ways hackers operate. The first is the common phishing link. This is where they will attempt to impersonate a reputable organization and convince you to click a link in an email. More people than you think fall for this. Once you click on the link, they will usually record your keystrokes when you enter your account details.
The other main way, which may be combined with a phishing link, is to install some sort of malware on your computer. This may come in the form of a keylogger, which records your keystrokes, or it may be spyware, so a hacker can essentially tune into your online browsing sessions.
AJ: And what are the best ways to make sure this doesn't happen?
Gastauer: The big piece of advice is to make sure you only go to websites you trust. Most malware is installed without the user's knowledge. It doesn't masquerade as something else. It simply happens and you never know until you find out your account has been cleared out.
Nevertheless, the usual advice applies. Never click on any suspicious links and never buy from a store you aren't sure of. Always keep your anti-virus system up to date. One of the biggest reasons why so many entrepreneurs get hacked is they don't keep their protections updated. This leaves lots of loopholes that hackers can easily exploit.
AJ: Is it possible to get the money back if you do fall victim to a hack attack?
Gastauer: Unfortunately, it's rarely the case that an entrepreneur will get their money back if a hack does occur. This is because hackers are extremely sophisticated at what they do. They know how to wire money through multiple accounts so it becomes untraceable.
The best outcome is for you have some form of cover where the bank can refund you the money, but forget about getting the original funds back. In most cases, though, they will only cover a certain amount. If you lose a significant amount of money, the bank is unlikely to want to know, unless it was their fault. If it was their fault, the situation changes and you may have the chance to receive a complete refund.
AJ: Thank you for speaking to my readers today about banking security.