A large number of banks, credit unions and other financial institutions just pushed customers onto new e-banking platforms that asked them to reset their account passwords by entering a username plus some other static identifier — such as the first six digits of their Social Security number, or a mix of partial SSN, date of birth or surname. Here’s a closer look at what may be going on (spoiler: small, regional banks and credit unions have grown far too reliant on the whims of just a few major online banking platform providers).
You might think it odd that any self-respecting financial institution would seek to authenticate customers via static data like partial SSN for passwords, and you’d be justified for thinking that, too. Nobody has any business using these static identifiers for authentication because it’s all for sale on most Americans quite easily and cheaply in the cybercrime underground. The Equifax breach might have “refreshed” some of those data stores for identity thieves, but most U.S. adults have had their static details on sale for years now.
On Feb. 16, KrebsOnSecurity reader Brent Hoeft shared a copy of an email he’d just received from his financial institution Associated Bank, which at $30+ billion in assets happens to be Wisconsin’s largest by asset size.