Cybercrime continues to rise in scale and complexity, affecting essential services, large and small businesses and private individuals alike. Right now, in mid-2022, Cybercriminals can penetrate 93 percent of the networks around the world. This staggering statistic is a reminder that, despite high-profile breaches including Solar Winds, the Kaseya Ransomware attack, the Colonial Pipeline attack and others, half of U.S. businesses have yet to put comprehensive cybersecurity safeguards in place. This translates to a predicted cost of $10.5 trillion by 2025 to businesses across the United States, according to the latest version of the Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures "2022 Cybersecurity Almanac."
Cybercriminals look to make money and get information -- name, passwords, bank information and financial records, for example -- that is then sold on the dark web for a profit. As they try to do this, disruption lies in their wake.
Roark Tech Services is constantly watching the cyber landscape to best understand how to mitigate risk and enact safeguards that will prevent a cybercrime disaster. We also watch business trends to best understand the increasing role technology plays in today’s business and customer relationships.
In 2022, Millennials are the largest U.S. age group, which means businesses must adjust to accommodate their preferences and habits. More than 20 percent of millennials have never written a check. This is according to a recent study of the financial habits of millennials, also known as Generation Y.
In fact, security experts recommend no one use a paper check in 2022. Checks are remarkably simple to forge. Someone with rudimentary Photoshop and copying skills can easily replicate checks that have barely changed over the past 30 years. Compromising bank account information doesn’t take much effort at all. A check payment can go through a lot of hands on the way to the bank, including, but not limited to, the postal mail system, a front desk, the accounting department and the accounts payable department. The check may sit for a while before it is reviewed, processed, deposited, and (hopefully) shred. Every minute of delay increases the risk. Anyone entering the office (including cleaning crews, contractors, visitors, etc.) can swipe a check, take a picture of it or quickly write down the account information.
These are just a few of the reasons for concern. While checks are one of the oldest forms of payment ‒ other than cash and precious metals, the latest electronic transaction options are more secure.
Fraud experts are also sounding the alarm on the safety of checks. According to the AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, paper checks continue as the payment method most subjected to fraud. As a simple illustration, let’s say you write a check at your local drug store and leave it behind with the clerk. The check likely has your name and address on it, in addition to the bank’s name, address, account number, routing number, and your signature. Imagine the opportunities to commit fraud with just that information. From a business perspective, where image and reputation are everything, if a business accepts paper checks and someone captures and misuses the account information, it will cause considerable damage to a business and the customer.
From a customer perspective, when a check gets lost in the mail, as they often do, what is the possibility the check isn’t in the hands of someone with evil intent? If identity theft comes into play, who is to blame?
There are better, more reliable and more secure options available in 2022
Paper checks elevate the risks for both a business and the clients. With that in mind, many small businesses are switching to electronic payments exclusively. The good news is it’s relatively easy to sign up for electronic payment using Automated Clearing House or “ACH”. One of the most common examples of ACH payments is a direct deposit program through an employer. Instead of receiving a paper paycheck, employers transfer the funds directly into an employee’s bank account.
ACH transactions make it impossible for anyone to access bank account and routing information. Those funds are quickly and directly deposited, avoiding the delay of mailed paper checks. In addition to increased security, ACH supplies the convenience of making payment from any Internet-connected device, reducing human error and processing payment faster.
According to the 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study, the use of checks declined from over 40 billion transactions in 2000 to less than 20 billion in 2018. The number of ACH transactions grew at an annual rate of 6% from 2015 to 2018. ACH transactions show no sign of stopping with record growth in 2020 when 2 billion new payments were added. Are there risks with ACH? Yes, but the risks are different. They include network failures, telecommunication failures, power failures, hardware and software failures, natural disasters and deceitful staff. These risks may include data loss, data alteration, and data duplication. When it comes to adopting safeguards to reduce the risk of fraud, many businesses, especially small businesses, are reluctant to adopt change, but whether the change comes from within or is forced by customers or government authority, it is inevitable.
Roark Tech Services is a leader in cybersecurity best practices and is the perfect partner for small businesses that want to understand their technology investments and stay safe. We understand the necessary approach, the fit-for-purpose need and the critical nature of technology integration in business operations. We are experts in the field and are uniquely qualified to help small businesses stay safe & competitive. Always consult with us first. If you don’t have an IT Partner that you can trust to give you the right support and advice, we’d love to help. Contact us.