Most people using the internet to shop, conduct financial transactions or read firewall-protected content are likely familiar with the aggravation of maintaining passwords. Worse yet, tech experts now say conventional password security is only a marginal defense against hacking.1
We are now entering a new age in electronic security for the average user — one that more closely resembles James Bond movies featuring high-tech gadgetry. Biometric coding uses unique physical traits — such as fingerprints and retina images — to permit access to certain devices. You may already use FaceID or fingerprint technology to unlock your smartphone.2
Behavioral biometrics recognizes unique traits such as your voice, the way you swipe a pen or press a keyboard, your gait, common gestures, your foot/pressure movement when you drive a car, etc.3
Biometrics may be easier than remembering passwords. However, the technology is not without challenges. Unlike passwords, biometrics are unchangeable. This data is stored for accessibility, and if hackers breach a cloud storage system that includes biometric data, they could hack into user accounts.4
In this era of rapidly changing consumer technology, it’s important to stay on top of your financial data. It may not be possible to prevent someone from hacking into the company websites that host your accounts, but you may be able to detect fraudulent acts before they cause too much damage by regularly checking your account activity.
Here are some of the common ways fraudsters can hack accounts:
- A brute force attack is when a hacker guesses at possible credentials using a trial-and-error system. This can take time, but less so if the hacker has some inkling of your data (such as your email address) or personal information (such as the names of your children).5
- A credential stuffing attack is when the hacker already has a set of your credentials, having purchased or breached a system (hotel or store database) to obtain them. Using this data, he or she may be able to hack into other accounts you use, such as your bank account.6
- A dictionary attack uses a systematic approach of testing each word in the dictionary as a potential password to hack into an account or system.7
In the movie “Skyfall,” James Bond is tasked with hunting down a genius hacker bent on terrorizing MI6 headquarters. Hollywood’s depictions of cyber hacks are rarely limited by minutiae such as science and technology — only by the imagination of writers and directors. In fact, movies often give would-be hackers ideas on how to infiltrate security systems, which can then lead to life-imitating-art events in which security technology is beefed up in response to creative breaches. Films like “Eagle Eye,” “Snowden” and “The Circle” also demonstrate possibilities associated with artificial intelligence, social media and mass surveillance.8
1 Kelly Lappin. Security Intelligence. Feb. 18, 2019. “Are Passwords Killing Your Customer Experience? Try Passwordless Authentication.” https://securityintelligence.com/are-passwords-killing-your-customer-experience-try-passwordless-authentication/. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019,
2 Sam Rutherford. Gizmodo. Aug. 5, 2019. “Touch ID Will Reportedly Return to iPhones in 2021 With Apple’s New In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor.” https://gizmodo.com/touch-id-will-reportedly-return-to-iphones-in-2021-with-1836973588. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.
3 Gemalto. Aug. 22, 2019. “Biometrics: authentication and identification (definition, trends, use cases, news) – 2019 review.” https://www.gemalto.com/govt/inspired/biometrics. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.
5 Mike Greene. Bank Info Security. Aug 19, 2019. “Credential Stuffing Attacks vs. Brute Force Attacks.” https://www.bankinfosecurity.com/blogs/credential-stuffing-attacks-vs-brute-force-attacks-p-2767. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.
7 Techopedia. “Dictionary Attack.” https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1774/dictionary-attack. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.
8 John William. CPO Magazine. Aug. 29, 2019. “Movies That Can Help You Understand Data Privacy and Hacking.” https://www.cpomagazine.com/cyber-security/movies-that-can-help-you-understand-data-privacy-and-hacking/. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.
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