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ACH cards need to be better protected

Jun 13, 2013 Dave King

Electronic payments have become more popular than ever before, especially among businesses that are looking to automate a variety of accounts payable and receivable processes. ACH cards and other methods of facilitating automatic transactions can boost efficiency, strengthen employee satisfaction and improve customer loyalty, though there are some associated risks.

Fraud has become an issue for ACH payments and a variety of other digitally based payments, especially as hackers continue to target the associated systems. Businesses need to focus on creating stringent oversight policies for all accounts payable and receivable, as this can protect internal financial information, as well as that of clients and vendors.

Several recent high-profile data breaches of financial services firms have made the average consumer - and corporate executives - more nervous about the integrity of their personal information. Information technology security solutions, when paired with exceptional management and oversight of all accounts, can help minimize the risk for enterprises.

A bad breach gets worse
KrebsonSecurity recently explained that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has stated that the damages incurred by the 2011 breach of Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) might be larger than previously believed. Financial firms have been among the biggest targets of hackers and cyber thieves in recent years, as well as small businesses.

According to the news provider, FIS handles a variety of processes for 14,000 financial institutions worldwide, including electronic payment processing. The breach involved an undetermined number of co-conspirators who used 22 prepaid cards distributed through the FIS network to levy $13 million in cash from ATMs in Europe.

The source explained that the timing was everything in this case, as the hackers likely researched the network and processes as conducted by FIS. While the initial report indicated that as many as 7,170 accounts might have been at risk following the breach, that number is now believed to be much higher.

"From review of the previous investigation reports, along with other documentation provided by FIS, examiners and payment card industry experts identified over 2,000 touch points that indicated a broad exposure of internal FIS systems and client related data," FDIC examiners explained, according to KrebsonSecurity. "These systems include, but are not limited to, the The New York Currency Exchange ATM network, prime core application systems and various Internet banking, ACH and wire transfer systems. These touch points also indicated approximately 100 client financial institutions, which appear to have had sensitive data exposed by the attackers."

Managing the entirety of financial transfers
These types of breaches often become more damaging over time, and illustrate the importance of having stringent protocols in place to manage accounts payable and receivable. Forbes recently reported that another similar scheme led to the theft of $45 million this year, and that businesses need to take it as a call-to-action when it comes to security.

The source asserted that no firm is completely safe from cyber attacks. However, with effective data and network security solutions in place, companies can minimize the risk of financial information loss.