Regulators Urge Banks to Raise Data Security

(By Rachel Roubein, USA TODAY ) –Federal regulators are pushing banks to keep customer financial information more secure after about 200,000 Citigroup credit card accounts were hacked last month.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which regulates the nation’s banks, is pushing for stronger account security measures at those institutions. The agency is specifically developing “additional guidance to enhance authentication procedures when customers access their online accounts,” FDIC Chair Sheila Bair said in a statement.

“The FDIC continually monitors (security) vulnerabilities as they evolve to prevent and deal with these risks and their impact on institutions and their customers,” the statement reads. “Both banks and regulators must remain vigilant.”

Although the Citigroup accounts were hacked more than a month ago, the breach was first made public Thursday.

Account information for about 1% of the bank’s 21 million credit card customers was viewed by hackers, Citigroup said. The company is contacting affected customers.

Hackers were unable to view Social Security numbers, dates of birth, card expiration dates and card security codes, which can often lead to identity theft.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear: The hackers did garner e-mail addresses and account numbers that could give them details of bank accounts and other financial information.

While the information the hackers received might limit the scope of damage they can exact on customers’ personal finances, “any ID theft is worrisome for consumers,” says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America.

Citigroup shed little light on the breach. “For the security of these customers, we are not disclosing further details,” Citigroup spokesman Sean Kevelighan says. He added that the bank is raising security to prevent a similar attack.

This incident is not the only one of its kind in recent months. PBS, Sony’s PlayStation Network, several defense contractors and data-marketing firm Epsilon have been attacked.

By Rachel Roubein, USA TODAY

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