If a cyberattack hit our nation’s financial system, would you be ready to deal with the fallout — including not having access to your money for a period of time?
Money expert Clark Howard has some advice to share that, if acted upon now, could help save the day in the event of a widespread assault on our nation’s banks and credit unions.
Prepare today for a possible coordinated financial cyberattack
The Wall Street Journal reports that all four of the nation’s biggest banks — Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo — have witnessed an “uptick in attempted cyberattacks in recent weeks,” according to unnamed sources familiar with the situation.
We’ve now reportedly reached a high-alert situation, as hackers who may be affiliated with foreign interests look to exploit weaknesses in the IT departments of major banking organizations.
The Journal says a steady flow of notifications that warn banks to be on the lookout for a major cyberattack have come from the following organizations recently:
- The U.S. Treasury Department
- The Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy (within the Treasury)
- Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (an industry trade group with a cybersecurity focus)
So what does this all mean to you as the average bank consumer?
Clark Howard warns that foreign state actors may be looking to completely erase the databases of our nation’s banks and credit unions — and wipe your hard-earned money away in the process.
In the worst case scenario, this could mean money you have one day may digitally disappear from your account the next day — that is, if a doomsday cyberattack actually takes place.
But the rub is proving that you have as much money as you say you have if the digital ledger gets compromised.
To deal with that possibility, Clark has the following advice:
Here are four ways to protect yourself right now
1. Turn off electronic statements and switch to paper — If you’re accustomed to getting email statements, giving them a quick glance and then deleting them, you might want to reconsider.
That’s not going to help you in the event of a major cyberattack on our nation’s financial system. What you need to do instead is turn off those electronic statements and go back to regular paper statements — just like back in the old days!
That way you always have a reasonably current accounting of your money.
2. Print your statements regularly — Maybe you prefer to strike a balance between being eco-conscious and protecting your money.
By printing out your statements yourself, you can at least eliminate the need for the paper envelope they’d otherwise come in through the mail.
3. Save your statements as a .pdf to the cloud — OK, now we’ve reached the greenest way of all to keep track of your green.
4. Have some cash on hand — Are you one of those people who never carries cash? Make an exception, head to the ATM and put some greenbacks in your wallet.
Having cash on hand will help you better cope with the possibility of an industry-wide financial attack until systems get back to normal.
And remember, you don’t have to spend the money. Just keep it stashed away in a safe place so you can access it if the need arises.
Check out these Clark.com credit card stories you might enjoy:
- Clark Howard: Here’s my philosophy on credit cards
- How to improve your credit score by 100 points in 30 days
- How to lower your credit card interest rate