Skip to main content

Insights by Cathay

Cybersecurity: what you can do to protect yourself

As more and more people conduct their banking business online or on mobile devices, cybercrime has become a bigger threat. For many banks, cybersecurity is now a top priority, with financial institutions’ spending to address it expected to exceed a record $124 billion worldwide in 2019 alone, according to research firm Gartner.

Even though cybercrime is a growing issue, there is a lot you can do to ensure you do not become the next victim. You are your best cybercrime counter measure. Here are some of the most common security threats to your bank accounts, tips on how to spot them, and actions you can take to bank safely online.



Phishing (pronounced "fishing") is a cybercrime that targets people by email. The email usually looks like it comes from a reputable company. It tries to bait you into revealing sensitive information, such as your banking password, Social Security number, phone number, or credit card number.

How to spot a phishing email: Look carefully at the email address. There might be an extra letter or number in the address, or it might come from a suspicious address you have never seen before. There might also be spelling mistakes in the email itself. Another giveaway is that it might falsely claim that you have an account at a bank that you do not have a relationship with.

As a general practice, never click on any links in a suspicious email. Remember, Cathay Bank will never ask for your personal information, such as passwords, in an email. If you are ever in doubt, contact your bank immediately.



This type of cyberattack is similar to phishing, only it is done over SMS text or other messaging applications such as WhatsApp or WeChat.

How to stop SMiShing: Just as with phishing, look carefully at the phone number or short code. If it does not look familiar, do not open it, click on any links in the message, or respond with personal information. Cathay Bank will never ask you for passwords or other personal information over SMS text or messaging apps. If you are ever in doubt, contact your bank immediately.



Malware generally takes the form of a computer virus or other malicious software that attacks your computer, often to steal information such as bank account numbers or passwords. Part of the difficulty with malware is that it stays undetected on your device until the damage is already done.

How to prevent malware: Be wary of accessing unknown websites, and do not click on suspicious ads or pop-up quizzes. Exercise caution if you are using an insecure public Wi-Fi network or public computer, such as those in a public library or cafe. Also take care to update your computer’s antivirus software regularly or enable “auto-update” if it is available.


Account takeover fraud

This occurs when someone else, a criminal, has amassed enough of your personal information to take control of your bank accounts. This can happen after a phishing attack. It can also happen if your account numbers are found in the trash or stolen from your wallet.

How to prevent account takeover: Setting up transaction alerts via email or SMS text can alert you to suspicious or unauthorized transactions in real time. If you see anything questionable, be sure to report it to your bank immediately. You can also opt for online, or paperless, statements, which are a secure way to access your bank information. When you receive bank statements through traditional mail, you run the risk of someone intercepting your mail and stealing personal information from your statements.

Taking a few simple steps to protect yourself from cybercrime can go a long way. Choose passwords that are hard to guess but easy for you to remember. For instance, “Ilovedogsandthebeach18” is harder to crack than “password.” Whenever possible, choose a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, and do not use the same password on different sites. These measures will help make your password more secure.

Another good practice is to check your credit report regularly. By law, you can request one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit monitoring agencies (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion), though the agencies are permitted by law to charge you a fee if you also request your credit score. Checking your credit report can alert you to identity theft or any errors that could be affecting your credit rating.


This article does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. Although the information contained herein is intended to be accurate, Cathay Bank does not assume liability for loss or damage due to reliance on such information.

Share This Article:

Social share image