(BPT) – Data breaches, identity theft, phishing attempts and malware literally “pop up” every day. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which each year reminds us why it is critical that we remain vigilant when it comes to you and your family’s digital activity, habits and overall cybersecurity.

Cybercrimes have skyrocketed in 2020 — Barracuda Networks reported in March that COVID-19-themed spear phishing emails skyrocketed 667% between March 1 and 23. As fraudsters seek to take advantage, Schwab reaffirms our commitment to our clients to keep their data safe and secure.

“The spike in cyber-attacks during the pandemic underscores the importance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and acts as a critical reminder to remain vigilant against fraudsters and cyber theft,” said DJ Johnson, senior vice president of Corporate Risk Management at Schwab. “We have a team of approximately 350 full-time and 200 contracted cybersecurity experts and employees dedicated to information security. Each day they are committed to ensuring we have the critical policies and tools in place to best secure and protect our clients’ data and sensitive financial information. In addition, we strive to ensure our clients are updated with the latest tips, best practices and ‘red flags’ they need to be prepared to prevent fraud attempts and cyberbreaches.”

Protection you can see, and protection you can’t see

When combatting fraudsters and scammers who look to exploit vulnerabilities, we focus our protection activities on three key areas: our clients and employees, our systems, and the information we are entrusted with.

Some of these activities are visible to our clients:

  • Authentication process — Our approach to security and fraud protection is anchored by multiple levels of physical and digital safeguards. We require secure identification and authentication before initiating transactions and maintain strict rules for the creation of secure user IDs and passwords to stop others from obtaining user login information.
  • Protecting vital passwords — Passwords are stored in the database as ”hashed” values, which are one-way mathematical functions that convert an original string of data into a seemingly random string of characters that is not useable by fraudsters.

Other activities are not visible, but are equally important:

  • Connections process — We provide a secure transmission connection to our Schwab websites through security technologies and encrypted cookies to establish and maintain a secure transmission connection designed to prevent unwanted visibility or interception.
  • Ongoing security evolution — We implement policies to fight against new and changing security challenges through constant assessments of our email security and login standards. Transaction monitoring, employer oversight and access control provide additional oversight to help identify unusual account behavior. We also have internal transaction monitoring systems in place to identify potentially suspicious and fraudulent activity.

This year, with cyber-attacks on the rise during the pandemic, as well as our increasingly digital and remote working network environments, cybersecurity awareness and preparedness is more critical than ever. We will continue to proactively pursue and invest in new ways to combat cyber-criminals, which we hope provides our clients with much-needed peace of mind and confidence that their data and information is safeguarded during these uncertain times.

For information on more ways to educate and protect yourself and your family members from cybercrimes, visit schwab.com/schwabsafe/security-knowledge-center.