Ides of March: Ransomware Updates, and Welcome to “Fintech”

Ides of March: Ransomware Updates, and Welcome to “Fintech”

There’s no question we live in a time of constant change: rising seas, fraying politics, wired-up networks changing economies and business models almost as fast as they can be reported on. That last category, at least, falls under our purview here, so let us update you on what has changed — and what’s stayed the same — since our last blog post, a mere week ago.

We just finished running a two-part overview of how to protect yourself against “Ransomware,” software that “kidnaps,” digitally speaking, your company’s system and/or its data, and doesn’t release it until a ransom has been paid (usually in digital “Bitcoin,” by the way, which is harder to track).

Since then, a new Ransomware attack has emerged. One simply involving ads on major websites. As The Guardian reports: “major news websites have seen adverts hijacked by a malicious campaign that attempts to install ‘ransomware’ on users computers.

“The attack, which was targeted at US users, hit websites including the  New York Times, the BBC, AOL and the NFL over the weekend. Combined, the targeted sites have traffic in the billions of visitors…When the infected adverts hit users, they redirect the page to servers hosting the malware, which includes the widely-used (amongst cybercriminals) Angler exploit kit. That kit then attempts to find any back door it can into the target’s computer, where it will install cryptolocker-style software, which encrypts the user’s hard drive and demands payment in bitcoin for the keys to unlock it.”

So it turns out that another way to potentially keep your firm safe is to install adblocking software for any web browsers being used on company computers.

More to the point, as we’ve said before, any web-browsing should be kept completely separate — different networks, different devices — from any POS hardware.  Far be it from us to suggest what a company’ employee internet policies should be; you just don’t want fantasy league surfing, for example, to take place on the same machines that house customer financial data.

As for those customers, what they expect, both from financial institutions that handle their money– like banks — and retailers and businesses where they spend their money — like yours — is constantly evolving.

“Data safety” would be near the top of that list. But we also want to introduce a term we haven’t mentioned much before: “Fintech.”

That’s a new word — a “portmanteau” for you linguists — that you’ll be seeing more of here, and it’s derived from “Financial Technology.”

2016 banking trendsThat means all the changing payment methods whose course we’ve been charting for you. It also means the way your customers interact with their “money.” Banks are taking note, because less and less, “Fintech” requires the presence of physical banks (much as Uber no longer requires a physical “dispatcher” to get cars to you).

MX is a company that designs “Fintech” for banks, credit unions, and similar institutions. They’ve recently released a study about changing customer expectations, and trendlines, in the wake of the increasing availability of financial tech, and its rapid evolution.

Barring any further updates about Ransomware, “Drown attacks,” or any other vulnerabilities in the tech system we currently have, we’ll be picking up that discussion next week — as spring break and Easter draw near.

See you then.

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