It’s a murky world out there, so who should we trust when it comes to our finances? Perhaps no one. Story by Chris Skinner.

I just hosted Jamie Woodruff, the Ethical Hacker, at our Nordic meetings in Oslo and Stockholm. He’s always got some good stories to tell, like how he uses your children’s toys to listen to your conversations, or pretending to be a waiter at the hotel restaurant to catch all the gossip at a conference.

In one of his latest ventures, he was asked to speak at a bank’s conference. It was for employees only, and as he stood onstage, he looked the part: big black hoodie, jeans, sunglasses and a deeply threatening voice. In a TV-styled anonymous broadcast, he asked the audience, “Are you afraid of me?”. Yesssssss, the banking guys chanted in response. “Do you worry about what I can do to your bank?”, his voice boomed around the stadium. Yessssssssssss, shouted the audience in unison.

“Well, you shouldn’t be,” said the guy onstage, as he pulled back his hoodie and took off his sunglasses. The person onstage wasn’t a hacker or Jamie Woodruff at all. It was the bank’s CEO! A murmur went around the room, and then the CEO said: “You should be worried about that guy there”, and pointed to an innocuous-looking guy with glasses, and wearing a suit, in the audience, “because he’s Jamie Woodruff”.

Jamie then got onstage to talk about what he’d heard the guys saying during the networking registration breakfast, and particularly the details about the high net worth client causing issues for Jackie, the most successful private banker in the crowd.

Tut tut.

But the point is made yet again: the weakest link in any chain is the human hand. We naturally trust people. We don’t look at anyone and go, you could be a thief, but we should. I’ve personally been ripped off in a few scams. I had a laptop stolen from a conference hall because the thief wore tie, glasses and trousers and looked the part. I invested in a firm that was a fraudulent company. They looked above board due to their celebrity endorsements, but the celebrities had been suckered too, as it turns out. Right now, I get invited to invest in an ICO every other day, but I’m sure some of them are just pure scams.

What’s the advice here? The advice is that you shouldn’t trust anyone.

READ NEXT: Why credit unions are a growing target for cybersecurity attacks

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by Gorodenkoff,

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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