How Can Someone Hack Your Bank Account – Online accounts are open to hackers if different passwords are not used for different websites. Job Arians/NurPhoto via Getty Images
When I got an email from Grubhub in the middle of the night last March telling me that my order from Dumpling Depot was arriving at an address 3,000 miles from my place in New York City, I thought I think something must be wrong. And there it was: mine.
How Can Someone Hack Your Bank Account
Because I didn’t take basic cyber security precautions, hackers stole $13,103.91 worth of cash and gifts from my three accounts over the next six months. While this doesn’t make me, your Recode Data Privacy Reporter, look very smart, I’m sharing my story with you in hopes that it will help you avoid a similar fate.
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The person who hacked my Grubhub account last March ordered a black mushroom salad with celery, five spiced beef and 12 pork meatballs (with chives) for a total of $26.84. At first, it was weird, but it didn’t seem like a big deal: I reported the alleged fraud to Grub and got a refund. Then I changed my password, angrily texted the phone number on the food order, and went on with my life, foolishly thinking it was an isolated incident. not that.
Five months later, I went into my bank account to find a lower than expected balance in my savings account. Sure enough, $9,000 was deposited two days ago. During a frantic and subsequent call to my bank, I looked at my checking account and saw that $4,000 had been deposited from there – which I reported with various curse words. The woman on the other end had a fragrant robe, which was further encouraged by the promise that I would get my money back.
Never mind that access to all my money was cut off for days while the bank froze and suspended my old accounts and created new ones. It took two weeks for everything to be fully functional again and my $13,000 was refunded. I don’t know if my bank got the $13,000 back or if they gave me the money and said it was a loss. When I called them for an update and to seek justice, they told me that I am not the victim and that the bank cannot tell me the details of the case. Apparently, things could have been a lot worse: I got the money back.
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But it’s not over. A month later, in September, I received an email from my credit card company telling me that it had declined a $323.01 charge that I tried to put Caviar on an expired card. With a good idea where this was going, I checked my credit card and saw that although the $323.01 charge had gone through, two charges from Caviar had gone through, $1.64 and $75.43. For some reason, my card has transferred some (but not all) purchases made on an expired card linked to my account to my current one right now. One person got $77.07 worth of rustic street food from one of Oakland Eater San Francisco’s top picks for Vietnamese restaurants. Fortunately my credit card was charged back.
But just because I was lucky enough to get my money back in full doesn’t mean you will if hackers ever target you. Even losing that money for a time was an even bigger and worse inconvenience: I had bills to pay and there was no way to pay them. I was afraid of losing my health insurance. I also had some bill payment services associated with a closed account that I didn’t move in time, and now I’m on some sort of list at E-ZPass.
I don’t know if I was able to get the stolen money back to my bank, the Group or my Chaviar. Otherwise, they (and all other businesses that pay the costs of broken accounts) have to recover somehow – and usually, in the end, customers who ‘ pay these costs one way or another. That means those thousands of dollars will come out of my pocket somehow. It will come out of you too. Sorry about that.
I know exactly how this happened, so I’m happy (and embarrassed) to share it with you so you can have better cybersecurity hygiene than I did. Here are three things I researched so you don’t have to:
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Yes, I use the same password (or a variation of it) for most of my accounts, and have for almost a decade. I thought I had beaten the hackers by replacing some letters and numbers with the same special characters, but apparently they saw through this trick.
This may be my original sin. Somewhere, sometime, one of my online accounts was hacked and my username, email address, password and who knows what else was put on the internet for anyone see and use any. Once a hacker has my password, all they have to do is plug it (and variations of it) into as many websites as possible until something clicks. The small amount of crime across multiple sites in six months shows that they did.
Like me, you reuse passwords – in fact, according to this recent study, half of you reading this do. If so, here’s what you need to do: Am I Pwned? Visit the website. Check if your information has been stolen. When I did that, I found that my email address was listed on 15 different breaking sites. I assumed that every website I created an account with took appropriate steps to keep my information secure and private, but my belief was completely wrong.
On July 29, 2019 a hacker accessed over 100 million credit card applications from financial heavyweight Capital One. Johannes Eisel/AFP via Getty Images
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What I should have done – what I’m doing now, and what you should do if you haven’t already – is to use different passwords for your -everything. It’s not as complicated as you might think. I have a password manager app that keeps all my usernames and passwords in one place (I use LastPass, but there are many similar services – some free, some not – a -out there). Now, if my password for a site is leaked, the damage is limited to that site. They are very easy to use, and many have password generators to create unique, strong passwords for each account.
Yes, there is always a chance – no matter how remote – that the password manager itself will be hacked. Security consulting firm Independent Security Assessors found vulnerabilities in several password manager applications, but called password managers a “good thing.” LastPass says it has only had one “security incident” in its 10-year history and that its users’ passwords have never been exposed. 1Password says it has never been hacked.
I know I’m giving my information to a place that promises to take every security precaution available when it comes to password managers. I guess I can’t say the same about Disqus, LinkedIn, MyHeritage, or Tumblr, all of which I’ve Pwned? Such as a data breach that exposed my password.
If downloading and setting up an entire app to manage your password seems beyond your abilities (or the amount of work you want to do), many browsers and tools now do it for you, even though these options are less secure. Mac devices have a Keychain app; Google has its own password manager that you can use in its Chrome browser; Firefox also has a password manager. You know when you first set up an account on a website and your browser or device asks if you want to save your password on the website? That’s all.
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If this seems too difficult or technical for you, you can always go analog and write down your passwords in a notebook. There are different ways of thinking: some say this is the best protection against hackers, others say you should never write down your password. Because most Americans keep track of their passwords by memorizing them (ie, using only one or two of the passwords for many websites, given the limited what people remember) or write them down, I think there is a better service for you. Keep unique passwords for each site written down in a book (perhaps stored in a safe place).
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