Five Major U.S. Banks Shut Down
by Cyber Attacks,
Do You Hold Money in Them?
The U.S. government has let it “leak” that our intelligence agencies are engaged in a game of cyber-warfare against Iran’s nuclear weapons development program. A program that is apparently global in scope.
The upshot is that a whole lot of foreign powers, cyber-savvy foreign enemies, and inventive malcontents in the Third World who simply don’t like us are totally dedicated to bringing down our entire Internet.
So far many of these attacks are aimed at U.S. banks. There is a high probability that at some point one of them will succeed. So you need to be aware of this and take five precautionary steps to protect your money immediately (see below).
The warning signs are mounting. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and PNC Bank – these represent five of the largest banks in America. Each and every one was just hit with the biggest and best-planned cyber-attack in history, launched in all probability from a Middle Eastern internet café or a high-tech, low-budget boiler room operation. You or someone you know might have an account at one of the targeted and victimized banks.
The good news is that apparently, no data or money was stolen, at least not this time. But we’re not taking much comfort in that ourselves. The problem, according to CNN, banks “get hit by cyber attackers all the time… This time, they were outgunned.”
You can bet this will not be the last attack we see, and the damage could be much worse next time around. So, we want to bring you some of the best ways we’ve found to protect your hard-earned capital from the next wave of cyber attacks, which can’t be far behind.
The Best Planned and Coordinated
Cyber Attack on Banks in History…
The attack used against these banks is called a “denial of service” (DOS). The purpose of a DOS is to disrupt, slow down, or shut down a website. It’s also to intimidate U.S. corporations and their customers and to send a message that nothing they have, know, or seek to protect is truly safe. In this particular case, bank customers couldn’t access their accounts to pay bills, check balances, or transfer funds because their banks’ websites were inaccessible for nearly an entire day.
To pull off a DOS attack, hackers use a network of commandeered computers to send an enormous amount of online traffic to a specific website. This wave of unexpected traffic overwhelms the website and shuts it down by making it unusable by others.
Banks typically have safety mechanisms to protect them from DOS attacks, but they were completely caught off-guard by this assault. “The volume of traffic sent to these sites is frankly unprecedented,” said CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch. “It’s 10 to 20 times the volume that we normally see, and twice the previous record for a denial of service attack.”
What the attackers did was break-in and take-over thousands of high-powered computer servers, and then focus and target all their combined traffic at the bank websites in unison. This knocked out the websites. What’s unique, compared to other DOS attacks, is it took the hackers many months to plan and prepare to take over all the servers they did and then launch a coordinated attack at the same time.
Even though no financial data was lost in this attack, it helps reaffirm the need to protect our financial assets and information from danger. It also highlights the fact that large national banks aren’t as secure as we’d like to think.
In addition, should these cyber criminals successfully target the Federal Reserve, the New York Stock Exchange, or the U.S. Treasury itself, international financial chaos could ensue within hours.
Currency Protection Measures For Today
DEFENSIVE STEP #1: Don’t Keep All Your Currency in the Bank: With today’s low interest-rate environment that doesn’t even beat the rate of inflation, it doesn’t pay to keep too much currency in a bank for long periods of time. It may be prudent to spread your capital and hold it in different places and in different forms.
For example, precious metals like gold and silver are a keen alternative to fiat currency units. You can hold them in your hand, lock them in a safe, stash them in a secret hideaway, or bury them in the ground. They are 100% non-hackable and totally immune to cyber thieves and computer crashes. Plus, they’re currently in a cyclical bull market and a great way to protect your buying power from the ravages of inflation.
Most people keep gold and silver holdings outside of traditional banks. Doing so lowers your exposure to a potential bank breach.
DEFENSIVE STEP #2: Keep Cash on Hand: It’s not a good idea to be overly reliant on ATMs, credit/debit card terminals, or even the bank teller to put your hands on your cash. Yes, they’re convenient, but over the past months drastic changes in weather have shown us how a loss of electricity is enough to leave thousands of people without the means to make simple, yet essential purchases for necessities like water. If they had enough cash on hand to cover them for a few days, weeks, or even months, things would have been easier to manage. Keep a few weeks of cash on hand in a variety of denominations (not all large or small bills). This can help you get through situations where your only option is cash-and-carry.
DEFENSIVE STEP #3: Keep Some Cash in Insurance Policies: Cash value insurance is certainly not the best bet to beat inflation or deal with a devaluing dollar, but it can keep some of your money out of the traditional banking system. And in many areas, maybe where you live, cash values in insurance policies are protected from lawsuits.
DEFENSIVE STEP #4: Don’t Keep All Your Money at the Same Bank: In these attacks, five of the biggest banks were targeted. We can guess these banks were singled out because they’re big well-known targets. Keeping some of your capital in solid, but not-so-publicly-known banks is prudent. A well-managed local bank could serve this purpose, as well as a credit union. Open an account, set up your online banking and bill paying, and have cash on hand to fund the account should your regular bank become for all practical purposes closed or inoperable. Make small monthly deposits and withdrawals to keep the account active.
DEFENSIVE STEP #5: Keep Copies of Your Online Bill-Paying Information outside Your Bank: Online banking is convenient, but you should keep a back-up set of data outside your bank’s system. Customers affected by these cyber attacks couldn’t access the bank’s website, and therefore couldn’t access their bill-pay through the same website. Don’t let yourself get caught off guard.
Luckily, no data or money was stolen during this series of bank attacks. But, since this was the largest DOS attack in history, we may not be so lucky next time. Use some the ideas above to better protect your hard earned property and spread your eggs around different baskets. Doing so can better protect you from cyber attacks and other risks to your financial independence.