The Democratic email leak and what it can teach us about data security

In the run up to the US presidential election, it's been reported that over 19,000 private emails have been published by WikiLeaks.

The Democratic email leak and what it can teach us about data security

 From leaked tactics, campaign donor banking information as well as other personal details such as social security numbers, passport details and contact information, the vulnerable owners of this information are no doubt questioning the DNC’s security policies and infrastructure.

So how can we ensure the financial services industry, as one continuously collecting personal and other sensitive data, isn’t as vulnerable to similar attacks? This recent case should lead businesses of all kinds to consider the need for heightened security and vigilance when it comes to personal and corporate data, and demonstrates that the strength of a company’s security and reputation directly translates into its integrity and responsibility.

A password alone is the easiest form of security for hackers to get past, and should no longer be the only barrier to sensitive information. By adding further layers of authentication there are more hurdles for hackers to overcome, making the process both harder and time-intensive for them. One excellent example of where financial services institutions are doing this is by introducing biometric authentication, allowing users to use voice verification or fingerprint recognition to log into their bank accounts. Creating additional barriers and layers of complexity for hackers to navigate, biometrics are proving increasingly successful. Other multi-factor authentication methods include text message or phone call verification.

Biometric authentication is something that Barclays, for example, does very well. Their customers’ security is their utmost priority, something that has been made clear by the public rollout of biometric services such as voice recognition for telephone banking and, in 2014, finger vein scanning for online banking. 

It was announced earlier this month that after three years of trial, Barclays was going to be introducing biometric telephone banking to their customers, meaning that users can wave goodbye to passwords and lengthy security questions, after just three initial calls verifying their voice print. With other banks such as HSBC also planning to implement multi-factor authentication via biometrics, it’s proving a popular and customer-friendly tactic in keeping sensitive data secure.

The bottom line is that as hacks are increasingly publicised on the web for all to see, consumers have become more aware of the need for heightened security. According to our research, nearly half (40 per cent) of consumers would like their bank to put more security methods in place, meaning it’s risen on their list of priorities. As we’ve seen, hackers are adopting increasingly sophisticated strategies to access and manipulate sensitive information, and the continued development of layered authentication such as biometrics is key to protecting sensitive customer data.