"Anonymous Hacker" via Brian Klug on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed

Adam Levin appeared on the Willis Report to discuss how the latest breaches are affecting consumer confidence. When Home Depot finally confirmed the national data breach it suffered affecting millions of customer’s credit and debit card information, banks got hit hard. The reason: it appears despite company denials that hackers were able to manipulate debit card pin codes and make unauthorized withdrawals of thousands of dollars from ATMs around the US.

If Home Depot worried you, imagine what the JP Morgan hack could mean to the entire US economy. Retaliating against economic sanctions, Russian hackers infiltrated JP Morgan Chase’s databases mid-August by exploiting a security flaw in one of its websites that allowed them to unleash malware in a series of phishing attacks on the corporate network. The haul: gigabytes of sensitive customer account data.

As is the case with so many breaches, humans are often the weakest link, and it only takes one person, on the wrong database at the wrong time to give a hacker an open door into the system. What makes the JP Morgan cyber attack even more devastating is that it highlights America’s vulnerability to a new type of war. If JP Morgan is vulnerable, cyber attack could take down the US financial markets, which would cripple the nation. Banks are looking to new technology like chip and pin and tokenization or the scrambling of credit card data to prevent fraud, but its not a cure-all.

For both businesses and consumers, the best offense is defense, including monitoring accounts, minimizing the risk of exposure and managing the damage with best practices.