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3 Security Tools to Protect Your Financial Data

Posted by Vijay Basani on Feb 16, 2016

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With big hacks making headlines seemingly every week, users and businesses alike understand the need to protect their financial data from digital compromises. Here are three online tools that can help safeguard sensitive financial information.

HTTPS Everywhere

There are two categories of web traffic, and only one is safe for financial data. The first and most common type is information traveling over HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), which is the backbone of the web. Data sent via HTTP is not encrypted—it can be read by anyone who intercepts it, such as the staff at a user's ISP. The other type of web traffic is information moving over HTTPS, which stands for HTTP Secure. Unlike information transmitted via HTTP, this data is encrypted, which makes it safer to send financial details. When users sign into their bank accounts, for example, browsers default to HTTPS and display a padlock to indicate an encrypted connection.

 

While bank sites remind browsers to switch to HTTPS, other websites sometimes fail to do so—and that can leave users' financial data exposed. A handy tool to force browsers to use encryption is the browser extension HTTPS Everywhere. It sends a request to the browser to check a whitelist before visiting a site. If the whitelist shows the site allows HTTPS, then the browser will use it instead of regular HTTP. That can protect any financial data users decide to send, such as credit card numbers. Of course, users using HTTPS should also remember to clear their caches, since browsers sometimes store financial details from HTTPS sessions in the cache.

VPNs

Publicly available WiFi networks add a lot of convenience in daily life—but using them without sufficient security is also risky. Users' data can be intercepted by anyone else on the network, including but not limited to the network’s owner. In 2010, the Firefox extension FireSheep demonstrated the perils of sharing WiFi connections with others, allowing users to capture other people’s cookies.

 

A good way to send financial data safely over public WiFi is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN establishes an encrypted tunnel between the user and an exit node: the point where the user's traffic exits the tunnel and goes out onto the regular Internet. Other WiFi users are typically not able to break into the encrypted tunnel. Many businesses require employees to use VPNs to ensure strong cybersecurity.

Network Security Monitoring

While HTTPS Everywhere and VPNs are security tools fit for individual end users, SMEs also need organization-wide solutions to protect financial data from hackers. Network security monitoring is a key technology for safeguarding IT assets from cyber attacks. In essence, network security monitoring keeps a vigilant eye on an organization's entire infrastructure, watching for unusual traffic patterns that are indicative of threats. Security teams can safeguard financial data along with any other critical information, using this tool.

 

Businesses without the resources to conduct internal network security monitoring can turn to managed security services such as EiQ's SOCVue, which can supplement the security activities of in-house security teams. SOCVue provides 24/7 network security monitoring along with log management, SIEM, and more to ensure that an organization remains protected against potential cyber attacks.

 

More and more, organizations who were previously understaffed, underbudgeted, and overwhelmed are finding that EiQ’s hybrid SaaS security services that combine the best people, process, and technology are a welcome change from going it alone. EiQ is transforming how mid-market organizations build enterprise-class security programs. Acting as an extension of our customers’ IT teams, EiQ’s SOCVue provides continuous security operations based on best-of-breed technology at a fraction of the cost of alternative solutions. EiQ is a trusted advisor to organizations that need to improve their IT security and compliance posture by protecting their infrastructure against cyber threats and vulnerabilities. To learn more, please request a demo today!

 

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Top image credit: wk1003mike/Shutterstock

 

Tags: Cybersecurity, Financial Services, IT Security, HTTPS, VPN

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