UnionBank exec shares steps in adopting digital hygiene to ensure secure online banking

As digital banking experienced a spike during the lockdown with the UnionBank of the Philippines (UnionBank) recording a 50% growth in online transactions, cyberthreats are not far behind.

In the second installment of UnionBank’s “E-TalkTales, Joey Rufo, VP and chief information security officer, UnionBank, said securing digital transactions is a shared responsibility between the institution and the clients. He advised those who intend to shift to online banking and those who are already on board to practice digital hygiene.

“Cybersecurity is a major concern in the digital space,” Rufo said. “It comes in many forms and affects individuals and enterprises in any industry that has a digital footprint. Essentially, the bigger you are, the more digital you are, the more likely you become a target. In this digital age, the more that our consumers and enterprises need to raise their cybersecurity presence to ensure the security of their online footprint.”

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Rufo said UnionBank has invested in a 24/7 integrated operations center focused mainly on ensuring cybersecurity. UnionBank, according to the chief infosec, regularly subjects its mobile application and our online banking services to regular security testing.

Industry standards

“We ensure that we comply with industry standards when it comes to cybersecurity and (data) privacy,” Rufo said.

On the part of clients, Rufo said, the bank constantly engages customers to awareness campaigns and educating them on the latest threats in the digital platforms. He said clients could easily fall for scams and phishing attacks if they are not informed on how criminals do it

He suggests that clients make a habit of constantly securing their accounts with steps that may look simple but are effective.

“Cybersecurity is an ongoing process,” Rufo said. “Scams and phishing threat and cyber attacks are growing in complexity and volume. So keeping this all in mind, this is where, how, and why cyber hygiene becomes important as part of our daily life.”

Here are Rufo’s tips in enabling secure digital banking transactions:

  • Make sure that you are logging in on the bank’s official website and not some bogus landing page for phishing attacks.
  • Create a dedicated email account for bank transactions only. This email must not be the ones that could be used in registering on other websites and used for log-ins.
  • Some devices enable biometrics or fingerprint login instead of passwords. If it is convenient for you, better make use of it.
  • Be discerning with emails claiming to be from your bank. Look for red flags such as wrong spelling and grammar, using the numerical zero instead of the letter “o” or number 1 instead of the letter i. Rufo said it the email is asking too many questions, discard it immediately and call the bank directly to verify.
  • Rufo discourages linking social media accounts with financial accounts.

With the pandemic not showing signs of ending soon and the push for financial inclusions, digital banking is expected to grow in the coming months. And with that amount of data to be had in the cloud, cybercriminals are always on the sidelines ready to attack at the first crack of vulnerability. But clients can educate themselves with the convenience of digital banking also comes the responsibility of securing online transactions.