Recent reports of data files being accessed via the stolen laptop of an employee of forex and binary options brokerage BDSwiss has clearly brought to the forefront the importance of online security. And while there is no evidence to suggest that corporate data had been accessed during the theft, client data protection presents huge vulnerability risks for brokerages.

Security must be the highest priority for brokers and they must remain always vigilant if they are to garner the highest level of trust amongst their customers.

Being safe online is not just the responsibility of brokers but also for traders alike. Too many fail to take basic, simple measures to avoid becoming another victim of cyber crime.

But what exactly is cyber crime?

Cyber crime primarily targets the computer, which enables the perpetrator will try to hack or spam online accounts in order to access sensitive information.

The common types of cybercrime include:

  • Hacking – Gaining unauthorised access to sensitive data in a computer or system.
  • Identity theft – Using another person’s name or personal information to gain access financial information.
  • Cyberstalking – Repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten through malicious emails or comments.

Focussing in particular on trading, whether currency, stocks or commodities, there are many rick factors.  So it is important to trust the firms you deal with. Carry out some research – check that they are FCA regulated and read articles, forums, and facts about the broker firm to see what experience people have had. There are individuals and organisations out there, who are ready to use trading as an opportunity to scam you.

It is crucial to understand the behaviour of trading scammers in order to recognise their traits and tactics.  Some scammers tend to make ‘promises’ which may be ‘too good to be true’ and these types of people will always try to encourage you with the thought of financial gain. Others may send infected attachments or links to fake strategies that could contain viruses; so avoid opening emails unless you know they are from a trusted source.

The recent trend for recovery scams is something traders also need to be aware of. Typically, scammers approach victims of investment fraud claiming that, for a fee (paid in advance), they can help recover sums invested or losses incurred on unlawfully operated trading platforms but in fact the fees paid lost for good.

Tips to prevent being a victim of cybercrime:

  • Make sure that passwords are strong (e.g. numbers, capitals, and characters) which are regularly updated
  • Use the safest program files and most update anti-virus software
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t click on any links or open attachments unless you trust the source
  • Set your browser security high enough to detect unauthorised downloads
  • Use a pop-up blocker (the links in pop-up ads are notorious sources of malware)
  • Back up your data regularly and protect all your files, photos, and music just in case your computer crashes
  • Avoid using public computers, especially when trading or making payments, some may track or record information without you knowing.

Companies and users alike need to ensure that their security is a priority in the workplace, protecting sensitive data, customer and employee information. If not, it could lead to crucial data loss a bad reputation which will affect the company’s performance and viability in the long-term.

And while many of the fixes to prevent you being hacked maybe technological, the best scammers rely on tricking human beings, not computers, by preying on the gullible, taking advantage of our trust, greed or altruistic impulses. Human error is still the most likely reason why you’ll get hacked.