The everyday habits that put your money at risk

27 August 2019

Security and fraud are always at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to money and bank accounts, but Brits could be compromising the security of their finances without even knowing it.

Financial apps like Atom bank use sophisticated technologies and security processes such as data encryption and biometrics that rely on face and voice for identification, but even with the most advanced security technology customers can improve their own security by implementing a few simple safeguards.

Luckily, if you’re concerned you might be putting your money at risk, Head of Information Security at Atom, Jon Holden, has provided information on how hackers can take advantage of your habits, as well as advice to ensure you don’t put yourself in danger of security breaches or malicious attacks:

  1. Check your phone’s fingerprint access settings

“Unfortunately, financial fraud can be carried out by someone we know. It can happen at any time, with fraudsters coming in all shapes and sizes. If someone has access to your phone, then it’s likely they can access any data stored on your phone and be highly exploitative.

“Keeping close guard of who has access to your phone is wise, and ensure you pay close attention to anyone who has fingerprint login access. At Atom, we use sophisticated biometrics that doesn’t rely on your device’s security and uses your voice, face and eyes to recognise you, so you are very unlikely to be compromised, but giving anyone access to your phone or data can put you at a heightened risk of fraud no matter how good the security.”

  1. Don’t use common passwords

“It might seem obvious, but many people still use simple and straightforward passwords that are easily guessed by fraudsters. Hackers usually work through lists of common passwords searching for the right combination, and once they’ve guessed your log in details for one account, they could use your credentials to access multiple websites.

“If it’s possible, use a banking app that uses biometrics to log in. They are far more sophisticated and the most secure way of accessing your finances. This might not be possible for everyone so if you do use passwords, make sure they don’t include names or key dates like your birthday as this could put you at risk. Make it hard to guess by using upper and lower case letters, special characters and numbers, but not so hard that you won’t remember and have to write it down.”

  1. Stay away from public networks

“They might be convenient, but accessing your finances on a public WiFi network, such as in a cafe or a hotel, can be very risky. The clue is in the name, they’re public. This means there are no guarantees that your connection is encrypted, putting you at risk. Some fraudsters even create their own public networks using the name of well-known shops or banks, giving them access to anything travelling through the network that is unencrypted.

“The majority of online banking sites and apps are heavily encrypted and will automatically log you out after a short while, but I would always advise avoiding public networks where possible. Always use a trusted network or your cellular data as these are safer, and always use your mobile app where possible.”

  1. Stop saving cards to online browsers

“There are loads of browsers available these days, but some are more secure than others. The majority regularly update to ensure they’re not at risk of hacking or malware from fraudsters, but if yours doesn’t update, then it can leave you vulnerable to an attack.

“For this reason I would never advise anyone to save their card details onto their internet browser. Although it may be convenient, it puts you at a significantly higher risk of fraud. Although verification is still required to use these details for transactions, if your device is hacked or has a virus then you could end up losing money.”

  1. Stay statement safe

“Although this sounds like an old fashioned hacking tactic, fraudsters can still use old paper documents and bank statements for impersonation. The majority prefer to target businesses as it’s more lucrative, but not destroying your statements is still an unnecessary risk.

“Make sure you dispose of them correctly, ideally in a shredder. Failure to do this could result in someone acquiring your sort code and account number which will put you at risk of fraud. If you use your app to view your statements, it’s a good idea to keep them saved there and not download them to your device. Banking apps are heavily encrypted so it’s a lot safer remaining within an app than on your desktop.”

  1. Be careful how you communicate

“I always advise customers to think about common practice with any forms of communication from a financial provider and if anything seems out of the blue or unusual - don’t chance it. The beauty of using your financial apps is that all communication should be in-app and therefore if you receive anything by the way of phishing emails and SMS messages, it should be an obvious red flag. I’d also take care communicating your finances in front of your family and friends.”


Note to Editors

After securing its banking license in June 2015, Atom bank launched operations in April 2016, offering market-leading Fixed Saver accounts and secured business lending for small and medium-sized enterprises (‘SMEs’). From the start, Atom set out to build a customer-driven bank, designed to meet their new needs and optimised for mobile technologies.

Atom bank launched its first mobile mortgage product in December 2016 and has taken £1.8bn in deposits and lent over £2.4bn to small businesses and homeowners.

Atom is here to change banking, creating a disruptive and digital bank, keeping costs low and passing back the value to its customers. The Atom app is at the heart of the bank, with a 24/7 support team on hand to help with any customer queries through phone, chat, email and social media, working out of their Durham HQ.

The Atom executive team are highly experienced, having built and run some of the most well-respected banks in the UK. CEO Mark Mullen has 25 years’ experience in the sector and was previously CEO at the multi- award-winning telephone and internet bank first direct. The team are supported by a strong non-exec board, which includes Chairman, Bridget Rosewell. Bridget has an economics background, is also Chairman of the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency and on the board of Network Rail as well as a Commissioner with the National Infrastructure Commission.

Since its creation in April 2014, Atom has:

  • Raised just over £400m of equity capital through the support of private and institutional investors, including BBVA, Woodford Investment Management and Toscafund Asset Management
  • Built a highly motivated and experienced team of around 350 permanent employees
  • Been ranked 9th in KPMG’s ‘Global 2018 Fintech 100’ listing, and uniquely in the EU have been top 10 in this listing for the last four years
  • Ranked 1st in Tech World’s Digital Challengers list
  • Ranked 14th in LinkedIn’s ‘Top 25 Startups’ 2017
  • Voted the UK’s most recommended bank
  • Industry leading NPS score of +74
  • 5 star rating and the UK’s most trusted bank on Trustpilot
  • 97% of customers said they would recommend us on Reevoo
  • Established a global network of partners and suppliers
  • Launched 3 and 6 month and 1, 2, 3 and 5 Year market-leading Fixed Saver accounts -Atom has taken £1.8bn in deposits so far
  • Launched Digital Mortgages by Atom bank, offering secured lending to SMEs and residential mortgage products - Atom has loaned over £2.4bn to date
  • joined Atom bank as a Strategic Board Advisor, giving an external perspective on culture, community and technology
  • Announced a four year STEM partnership with the Prince’s Trust in North East England
  • Signed up to the Women in Finance Charter in 2016 and the Tech Talent Charter in 2017
  • Became a direct participant of the Faster Payments and Bacs Payment schemes
  • Announced the Atom Incubator to support North East startups at their HQ in Durham
  • Agreed multi-year partnership with leading fintech Thought Machine
  • Named in the Chronicle’s top 50 best places to work in the North East and listed in the top 20
  • Featured in London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2019