The struggle to maintain online banking security has led to better education for consumers as well as better methods of safeguarding users’ account information.
Nevertheless, the constantly changing internet environment means that consumers must still be on their guard against the risks of identity theft and loss of financial data through online banking.
As the ease and popularity of conducting financial business from a computer or mobile device increases, the field widens for thieves who are becoming much more sophisticated in their attempts to steal personal and financial data from online transactions.
In efforts to increase online banking security, financial institutions are securing their websites and strengthening the requirements for passwords and PINs.
Many now also offer TANs for certain transactions. A TAN is a one-time password used in addition to other codes and often sent as a text message to a user’s mobile device at the time of the transaction.
Other institutions may use digital signatures for online banking. Online attackers, in turn, are focusing on trying to obtain login information, PINs, TANs, or other codes by deceiving users or by re-directing entire websites.
One of the more successful methods used by attackers to deceive users is known as "phishing." Thieves design an email or a pop-up window that looks identical to a genuine financial institution’s communication.
They then ask the unwary recipient to verify or confirm their login or personal information after clicking on a link in the message. In order to motivate the recipient to follow through on the giving out such information, the message may issue alarming warnings about an account being closed or insecure.
Many of these attacks come from international criminals who have successfully stolen identity and financial information from educated consumers.
In addition to phishing, attackers are constantly developing new viruses, Trojan horses, and spyware that can end up on a personal or work computer through a download or an email attachment.
These invisible threats may detect personal and financial information on a user’s computer and send it back to the attackers, eluding the online banking security of financial institutions.
Protecting personal and financial information requires constant diligence. In addition to using good virus and spyware detection software, users should take the time to change online passwords and codes on a regular basis and log off from the bank when finished with transactions.
Considering the constantly changing threats to computer security, additional layers of protection should be also considered, such as identity theft insurance.
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