While lately it seems that serious security breaches of consumer credit information are happening at an increasingly alarming pace, the most recent breach at JPMorgan Chase has a lot of people worried about whether any of their personal financial information can be considered truly safe.
The Expanding Breadth of the Breach
Until now it was believed that banks, with their huge investments in data security and monitoring systems, were impervious to attack from hackers. That illusion was dispelled in July of this year, when JPMorgan revealed the breach.
Executives at the largest bank in the country initially said the intrusion only affected 1 million account holders, but recently revised that number to 76 million households and seven million small businesses.
This attack comes on the heels of similar breaches at such well known retailers as Target and Home Depot. The difference in this case is the type of information that was stolen from JPMorgan’s data systems.
While executives at the bank insist that no financial information or money was stolen, the hackers appear to have gained access to names, email addresses, phone numbers and other personal data that could be used to commit identity theft.
Motives in Question
Forensic analysts still piecing together the timeline of the breach said that they are uncertain why no accounts were raided nor any money stolen. It seems that the personal consumer information was all that they were after at the moment.
Having gained access to nearly 100 secure servers with financial information on them, it would have been logical for the hackers to begin transferring money out of accounts. The fact that this didn’t happen may indicate that the personal data they stole is even more valuable than cash.
What You Need to Know
If you currently or recently have had a banking relationship with JPMorgan Chase, there is the potential that your personal information may have been compromised. Here is what you need to know to help protect your financial identity:
• Thieves may try to access your financial data using pieces of information that they gathered. To be safe, monitor your credit report and account statements carefully.
• Although JPMorgan says that changing passwords is not necessary, it may be a good practice to do this as a proactive measure.
• Be vigilant and cautious of any contact from individuals claiming to represent JPMorgan Chase. The bank says that they never contact account holders to verify personal or account information.
• If you detect any suspicious activity, report it to the bank immediately.
This latest episode goes to show that hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks and are able to breach even the best-protected networks. We should all be keeping a close eye on our financial accounts, our credit reports and our monthly statements. In all likelihood these attacks will continue and may become even more far-reaching in the near future.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.